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Lack of Agreement on Idlib Delays ‘Astana 6’ Talks | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Officials pose for a photo after the final statement following the talks on Syrian peace in Astana, Kazakhstan, Tuesday, January 24, 2017. (AP)

Moscow – The next round of talks between Russia, Turkey and Iran on settling the Syrian civil conflict has been pushed back from late August to mid-September, Kazakh Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov said on Tuesday.

Kazakhstan hosts the talks which have in the past few months focused on establishing de-escalation zones in Syria.

“According to the information we have received from Russia, the guarantor states, namely Russia, Turkey and Iran plan to hold a technical meeting before the end of August where they will agree on the agenda and exact dates of the next Astana meeting,” Abdrakhmanov told reporters.

“A preliminary plan is for mid-September.”

At the most recent Astana meeting in July, the three nations failed to finalize an agreement on creating four de-escalation zones in Syria after Ankara raised objections.

The situation in Astana 6 seems to be similar to what took happened in the Astana 5 meeting, when the guarantor countries were forced to postpone the meeting more than once, which was why experts from those countries failed to reach an agreement on the details of the implementation of de-escalation zones.

After Astana 5 talks, Russia was able to conclude agreements on three of the de-escalation zones, all without the participation of Turkish and Iranian guarantors.

This way, de-escalation in Idlib remains the main subject of the consultations during the technical meetings at the level of experts from the guarantor states, and setting the date of convening the Astana 6 meeting is linked to progress in those consultations.

“It is no secret that the situation in the Idlib is very complicated as there are many disputes over regional and international issues and interests,” an informed source told Asharq Al-Awsat.

He stated that there are major points being focused on, which are “the countries that will be responsible for monitoring and guaranteeing a ceasefire in that region, organizing relations between Syrian opposition forces within the de-escalation zone and helping them resolve their differences and defining mechanisms for dealing with extremist groups.”