Turkish, Russian delegations meet in Ankara for Astana talks
Turkey and Russia have held a first technical meeting to revise preparations for the upcoming Astana talks between the Syrian regime and opposition groups slated for Jan. 23, state-run Anadolu Agency reported on Jan. 11.
According to Turkish officials in dialogue with Syrian opposition groups, preparations for the Astana talks have been accelerated with the fall in the number of ceasefire violations.
A Russian delegation had talks with their Turkish counterparts on Jan. 10 in Ankara, the agency reported, adding that the main message Ankara delivered was that continued violations of the ceasefire would make the process more difficult. Turkey reportedly blamed some Iran-backed groups for violating the ceasefire.
The same issue was discussed between the Turkish and Russian foreign ministers, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and Sergey Lavrov, in a phone conversation late on Jan. 10.
They agreed on the need to observe a ceasefire in Syria while continuing to fight “terrorist groups,” the Russian Foreign Ministry stated.
In Ankara, Turkish officials claimed that certain Iran-backed groups in Syria were violating the fragile truce.
Syrian opposition groups in Ankara
Anadolu Agency also reported that military and political representatives of a number of Syrian opposition groups are in Ankara in order to conduct preparatory talks with Turkish officials on the Astana process. The opposition groups are drafting their expectations and demands from the regime, it said.
One pending issue is whether the regime and opposition groups will hold direct or indirect talks. In the event that the two parties would prefer indirect talks, Turkey and Russia will mediate between them, the agency reported, as the two countries are the guarantors of the process.
Iran and the United States are also expected to join the technical talks, it added.