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Astana talks to fortify Syria ceasefire accord

Among the participants of the two-day talks include representatives from the Syrian government, opposition groups, Russia, Turkey, Iran, US-led coalition, and United Nations.

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The Kazakhstan-brokered peace talks at Astana on January 23-24 hopes to strengthen the December 29, 2016, ceasefire agreement on Syria to end the six-year upheaval in the country that displaced millions of Syrian population and killed nearly 500,000 people.

Among the participants of the two-day talks include representatives from the Syrian government, opposition groups, Russia, Turkey, Iran, US-led coalition, and United Nations, according to the Foreign Ministry of Kazakhstan.

Sources close to the talks revealed that the highly anticipated peace negotiation will not offer new initiatives but to confirm the agreement that resulted to the December 29 ceasefire. The Syrian opposition will be bringing in representatives from armed groups that can direct immediate implementation of truce if a positive accord could be formulated by January 24.

For its part, the Turkish government said that the Astana talks hope to finally end the pains of Syria as the country struggles to survive from the wreckage of war.

“The meeting in Astana is the vital initiative of Russia and Turkey, aimed at reaching peace and stability in Syria. The whole world is treating this initiative with respect and is watching the developments with anxiety,” said Hasan Basri Kurt, a member of Foreign Affairs Commission and Samsun deputy of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party).

The Turkish official is optimistic of a positive outcome from the Astana talks amid vibrant participation of the key countries in the region. He also considered the involvement of the US-led coalition as a positive signal in the efforts of bringing peace to Syria.

Astana was chosen as the host venue as participants considered the area as neutral for all parties. The Kazakhstan government said the talks may be completed by January 24 (1300H) and will be followed by a news conference.

Last December 29, Russia and Turkey brokered a ceasefire agreement between the Syrian government and the opposition factions, including 13 groups from Free Syrian Army.

Written by Jun Pasaylo

Jun is multimedia journalist from the Philippines. He has wide array of experience in war reporting in Southeast Asia. His proficiency in journalism was anchored in his years of experience as field reporter in conflict areas.

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