ASTANA – Participants in the eighth round of talks in Astana on compliance with the ceasefire in Syria slated for Dec. 21-22 began arriving to the Kazakh capital on Wednesday, Kazakhstan’s Foreign Ministry said.
The ministry said the talks are to be attended by representatives of the Syrian opposition and government, as well as of the three guarantor countries: Russia, Iran and Turkey.
The Russian delegation is headed by Moscow’s special envoy for Syria, Alexander Lavrentiev, while the Iranian and Turkish sides are to be led by deputy foreign ministers Sedat Onal and Husein Yaberi Ansari, respectively.
“The heads of Turkey and Iran’s delegations, as well as part of the Syrian opposition’s delegation have already arrived,” said the head of the ministry’s press service Anuar Zhainakov.
Observers from Jordan and the United States are to participate in Astana-8, which will focus on the release of prisoners and hostages, the exchange of the bodies of those killed as well as the search for missing persons.
According to the initial program, Thursday’s closed-door meetings are to be bilateral and multilateral negotiations.
The plenary session and press conference are slated for Friday.
The start of the eighth round of the Astana Process coincides with a meeting in Moscow between the UN envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, and the Foreign and Defense Ministers of Russia, Sergey Lavrov and Sergey Shoygu, to address the situation in the war-torn Arab nation.