Russia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin said that the UN has been invited to participate in negotiations between parties to the Syrian crisis that are due to be held in Astana at the end of January.
The Russian news agency Tass quoted Churkin as saying “Of course, the UN is invited”. However, he noted that he was not certain that the UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura would arrive in Kazakhstan’s capital. He continued by saying that “His people will definitely be there. That’s for sure”.
In response to a question regarding the participation of representatives from Iran and Saudi Arabia, the Russian envoy said that this was still not clear. “In my opinion, the international players’ role is still unclear as well as whether they will be present there or not,” Churkin said. “Certainly, we want everybody to make a positive contribution to preparations for the meeting.”
On his part, the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Wednesday that the Astana talks would begin on the 23rd of January in the event that parties to the conflict in Syria committed to the ceasefire agreement.
Meanwhile, the Spokesman for the UN Secretary-General Stéphane Dujarric announced on Tuesday that “de Mistura will not participate in the upcoming Astana negotiations on the Syrian crisis.”
However, Dujarric did not exclude the possibility of the United Nations’ involvement in the Astana negotiations and said “We do not consider the talks in Astana as competing with the Geneva ones. Rather, they are part of the same process that will aid the talks in Geneva.”