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Astana 2 Talks Shaken by Disputes among Sponsors | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Syrian rescuers remove a baby from under rubble in al-Kalasa in northern Aleppo in April last year. AFP file/AMEER ALHALBI

Beirut, Ankara- Russian-Turkish disputes concerning the agenda of the Astana 2 talks postponed the meeting from Wednesday to Thursday and caused a delay in sending the invitation cards to representatives of Syrian opposition factions.

On Tuesday, Kazakhstan’s foreign ministry said talks on the Syrian crisis involving Russia, Iran, and Turkey that were due to start in Astana Wednesday have been delayed by one day.

An informed source told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Syrian factions had requested to be informed about the items listed on the agenda of the talks. However, the opposition has not yet received any response.

Meanwhile, the source added that Moscow is trying to surpass the ceasefire agreement and discuss political issues in violation of the U.N.-sponsored Geneva talks, expected next Feb. 20.

Both Turkey and opposition factions had repeatedly confirmed that Russia’s mission was limited to bolstering the ceasefire while the High Negotiations Committee was the party responsible for discussing issues related to a political solution in Syria.

Diplomatic sources said that Ankara also totally rejects any discussion on a new constitution that gives Kurds self-administration, as stipulated in the draft suggested by Russia during the Astana 1 meetings.

Meanwhile, Russia’s news agency RIA reported that U.N. special envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura plans to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu during a visit to Moscow later this week.

RIA earlier said de Mistura would visit Moscow on Thursday.

On Tuesday, Kazakh Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov said: “The Astana process is one of those realistically active and at the same time is a serious preparatory stage for the resumption of the Geneva talks.”

Abdrakhmanov added: “According to the guarantor countries, they are gathering here to adopt a document on the creation of a taskforce to monitor the cessation of hostilities.”

The first round of Astana talks on Syria had gathered representatives of the Syrian regime and the opposition groups for the first time since the start of the Syrian war. The talks resulted in an agreement between Russia, Iran and Turkey to establish a trilateral mechanism to monitor the ceasefire that came into effect last Dec. 30.