A fresh round of multilateral negotiations for establishing peace in Syria within a framework known as the Astana process kicked off in Kazakhstan’s capital of Nur-Sultan, formerly known as Astana, on Thursday.
The 12th round of Syria peace talks under the Astana format is attended by delegations from the Syrian government, the opposition, Russia, Iran, and Turkey. The three latter are known as the guarantors of a ceasefire in Syria which has been brokered after several rounds of peace talks.
The current round of Astana talks is also attended by a delegation from Jordan as an observer, and representatives of the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees as well as the International Committee of the Red Cross. UN Special Envoy for Syria Geir O. Pedersen is also taking part in the talks.
This round of negotiations is reportedly aimed at finding ways to rid Syria’s Idlib of terrorists, reconstructing Syria, preparing the ground for the return home of Syrian refugees, and enabling the Syrian constitutional committee to start working.
The Iranian team of diplomats in the talks is led by Ali Asgahr Khaji, a top aide to Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
In a meeting with the Russian delegation in Nur-Sultan on Thursday, Khaji said the common goal of the participants is to guarantee peace, security and stability in Syria.
Since March 2011, fighting in Syria has killed an estimated 465,000 people, injured more than one million, and forced about 12 million people – or half the country’s pre-war population – from their homes.