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PRESS RELEASE


Syria: Geneva, Astana Meetings Move Forward

Feb. 14, 2017 (EIRNS)—The various processes towards a political settlement in Syria are continuing to move forward, though not without difficulty, with meetings set for Astana, Kazakhstan on Feb. 15-16, and in Geneva next week. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, during a joint press conference with his counterpart from Mongolia, reported that the Astana meeting will convene with the participation of the three countries guaranteeing the ceasefire—Russia, Iran and Turkey—as well as representatives from the armed opposition groups that are observing the ceasefire and from the Syrian government. In addition, UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura has been invited in his capacity as mediator of the Geneva peace talks, and the United States has been invited to participate as an observer.

De Mistura’s office announced yesterday that he has sent out letters of invitation for the Geneva talks, now set to begin on Feb. 23, with initial consultations taking place on Feb. 20.

"We can confirm that letters have been sent today, and also that consultations are continuing," his spokeswoman, Yara Sharif, said yesterday. Meanwhile, it appears that despite the announcements made over the weekend, the opposition delegation may not be all that solid. Jihad Makdissi, a representative of the Cairo Group of political opposition, told TASS his group will not participate as part of the HNC delegation.

"No, we already told them we don’t agree [with the initiative of Riyadh group or the High Negotiations Committee]. We don’t want to be an accessory in their delegation."

"We offered to create a delegation from three platforms instead: Moscow platform, Cairo platform, and Riyadh platform. Since they created their own delegation, it means the answer [to our proposal] is ’no,’"

Makdissi said. According to the TASS report, the Moscow and Cairo groups were offered one seat each on the High Negotiations Committee delegation. No word from the Moscow group whether or not they’ve accepted the HNC offer of one seat.