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Frances ‘Conditioned’ Support for Astana Syrian Peace Talks | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault leaves the weekly cabinet meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, June 15, 2016. REUTERS/Jacky Naegelen

Paris- France declared its conditioned support three days ahead of the Syria talks to be held in the Kazakhstan capital, Astana, despite that the European country did not receive an official invitation to the negotiations. The peace talks are the first to bring face to face a representing regime delegation and a majority of opposition forces.

A high profile French diplomat is expected to attend the Astana talks and advise the opposition’s delegation, sources told Asharq Al-Awsat.

France supports the goals of the Astana meeting on the Syrian settlement, which include the consolidation of ceasefire regime and preparation for the upcoming Geneva talks, French Foreign Ministry spokesman Romain Nadal on Jan 17.

“The meeting in Astana is being organized by Russia and Turkey in cooperation. We understand that it will be aimed at​ ​ establishing sustainable ceasefire regime and preparing for Geneva talks resumption on February 8.. ​
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault confirmed that France supports the goals,” Nadal said during a briefing, reminding that Ayrault held talks with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu over the weekend.

The guarantors of a nationwide Syrian ceasefire, namely, Russia and Turkey collectively determined the format of the Astana talks, aimed at bringing the Syrian government and opposition groups to the negotiating table, and the list of participants, also involving international actors interested in resolving the conflict.

The talks are set to be held on January 23.

Resolution 2254 was adopted in December 2015 and endorsed a number of earlier plans to start political settlement for the Syrian conflict. The preceding international agreements included the 2012 Geneva Communique and the Vienna Statements by the International Syria Support Group (ISSG).

Despite the mystery engulfing the Astana talks, in the absence of a clearly outlined agenda, Paris reaffirmed that it continues to support the opposition’s participation at the talks and encourages it.

On the other hand, France fears that a Russian-Iranian play at the Astana talks would be to amend the international references used for establishing peace in Syria, and to oust the Syrian opposition Higher Negotiation Committee from the peace process.