ASTANA – Iran, Russia and Turkey, the guarantors of Syria’s cease-fire, announced Friday that the Syrian National Dialogue Conference is to be held Jan. 29-30 in the Russian city of Sochi.
“The guarantor countries (...) call on the representatives of the Syrian Arab Republic Government and opposition to cooperate and defend the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Syria,” officials from Iran, Russia and Turkey said in a statement.
The document was read by Kazakhstan’s foreign minister, Kairat Abdrakhmanov, at the end of Astana-8: the eighth round of talks in the Kazakh capital on the implementation of the cease-fire in Syria.
“We would like to hold consultations with our military and political leaders before making a final decision,” the head of the Syrian armed opposition delegation, Ahmad Toma, told reporters after being asked if the opposition would attend the Sochi meeting.
Toma added, however, that the opposition would only support the conference if it was linked to the Geneva talks, which are also scheduled to resume in the second half of January.
The head of the Syrian government delegation, Bashar al-Jaafari, said that Damascus would participate in the conference and would make all possible efforts to guarantee the success of what he described as a “good basis for dialogue between Syrians.”
UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura, who participated in the Astana-8 talks, acknowledged “some progress” on measures to strengthen mutual trust and humanitarian mine clearance, according to a statement issued by his office.
The special envoy also “noted progress towards an agreement for the exchange of prisoners.”
During Astana-8, the three guarantor countries decided to create a working group for the release of detainees and kidnapping victims, as well as to identify missing persons.
Iran, Russia and Turkey agreed to hold the next round of talks in the Kazakh capital during in the second half of February.