Syria Peace Talks Delayed Until Thursday

Posted February 16, 2017

The two-day conference in Astana that begins Wednesday is aimed at strengthening a December 30 cease-fire.

The talks are being brokered by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's allies Russian Federation and Iran and rebel backer Turkey, which are all key players in the conflict.

Syria's rebels won't begin negotiating a political settlement with the government until measures are taken to bolster a flagging cease-fire and address urgent humanitarian concerns, the head of the opposition delegation to planned talks in Kazakhstan told The Associated Press today.

Previous efforts, which have involved indirect negotiations brokered by the U.N.'s envoy for Syria, resulted in little progress to resolve a war that began as peaceful protests against Assad before spiraling into a multi-party conflict. Syrian opposition representatives, who have threatened this week to boycott the talks, are not happy with the attitude of Russian Federation to push the regime to comply fully with the cease-fire, a Turkish official told Hürriyet Daily News. He said the negotiations should start with discussion of the transition. The Syrian government has not yet responded to the report on state media.

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Kazakhstan's Foreign Ministry did not offer an explanation for the change.

The U.N.'s envoy on Syria, Staffan de Mistura, said he would not participate personally in the latest Astana meeting but that his office would be represented by a "technical team".

Syria's armed rebel groups have been invited to Astana talks this month.

Jordan will also be represented by a "high level delegation", government spokesman Mohamed Momani said.