United States declines to send delegation to Syria peace talks in Astana

Miranda GreerJan 23, 2017

The U.S. will not send an official delegation to planned Syria peace talks, it said Saturday, citing "the immediate demands of the" presidential transition.

The United States will be represented at the talks by U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan George Kroll.

To the major session will be attending also UNSG's special envoy to Syria Mr. Staffan de Mistura and Syrian government and opposition delegations.

"The meeting in Astana is the vital initiative of Russian Federation and Turkey, aimed at reaching peace and stability in Syria".

He said Damascus regarded the peace talks as only being between Syrian parties and that Turkey would not participate in dialogue.

The Kazakh capital of Astana, a city of less than 1 million people, is set to begin hosting peace talks on Monday regarding Syria's almost six-year civil war that has killed almost half-a-million people.

Following last month's cease-fire deal, brokered by Turkey and Russian Federation, the Astana meeting comes as part of ongoing efforts by both countries to find a political solution to the six-year-old conflict in Syria. Substantive financial, political, and ideological support was offered to the militants by countries opposed to the Syrian government, most notably the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey.

The United States has backed the rebels.

Assad summarized that "terrorist groups", referring to rebels, need to disarm.

Not having all the players willing to engage in the peace process makes success less likely, says Stanislav Pritchin at the Research Center on Central Asia at Moscow's Oriental Studies Institute.

He also noted that there had been no negotiations to date between Syrian and Turkish governments regarding the conflict. A delegation from the Syrian opposition has already arrived in the Kazakh capital. "And, it gives some optimism to observers, to people living first of all in Syria, that it might be a very important step forward to resolving this long-term civil war in Syria".

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