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Astana Meetings Expected Early July | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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FILE PHOTO – General view during a meeting of a delegation of Syria’s main opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC) with UN Special Envoy for Syria during peace talks at the United Nations Offices in Geneva, Switzerland, May 19, 2017. REUTERS/Fabrice Coffrini/Pool

Moscow – A Russian official said that the next round of Astana talks on Syria would be held in early July, noting that the meeting, which was supposed to be held in June, was delayed due to the holy month of Ramadan.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said on Tuesday that the next round of talks on Syria in Kazakh capital, Astana, was scheduled for July 4-5.

“We are now preparing for this meeting — we wanted to hold it on June 12, but we were told that they will not be ready by that time, then we were told 20,” Bogdanov said.

RIA news agency quoted Bogdanov as saying: “This issue is being discussed, but there is a desire among our fellow Muslim partners, first of all the Turks and the Iranians, who are sure to make these meetings immediately after Ramadan.”

He added that the Geneva talks would immediately follow the Astana meetings, stressing that officials in Geneva were currently working on the matter.

During the previous round of talks in early May, states acting as guarantors in bolstering the ceasefire in Syria have signed a memorandum on four de-escalation zones proposed by Russia.

Participants agreed that preparatory talks would be held in Ankara at the level of experts two weeks ahead of the fifth round of the Astana talks, which was scheduled to take place in June, with an aim to delineate the borders of the de-escalation zones and to discuss the memorandum’s technical issues.

On Tuesday, sources in Moscow said that there were still some disagreements between guarantor states over the borders of the de-escalation zones, as well as other important details.

Meanwhile, Geneva will host on June 15-16 discussions over the new Syrian constitution, with the participation representatives from the High Negotiations Committee (HNC), as well as the Moscow and Cairo platforms.

An official from the Moscow platform told Tass news agency that talks would look into a mechanism to discuss the bases of the new Syrian constitution, which was established by UN Special Envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura.