Updated-Al-Jaafari: Turkey wants to derail Astana track, attempt failed due to Russia, Iran, and Syrian Arab Republic delegation

Astana, SANA – Head of the Syrian Arab Republic delegation to the Astana 3 meeting Bashar al-Jaafari said that constructive talks were held during the past two days with the Russian and Iranian friends on various issues that seek to bolster the cessation of combat activities, coordinate efforts to fight terrorism, and separate armed groups that joined the cessation from ISIS, al-Nusra, and other groups that didn’t join it.

In a press conference held at the conclusion of the Astana 3 meeting, al-Jaafari said that the third round of talks and the closing session were held without the delegation of armed terrorist groups being present, and the reason behind that is that their guarantor Turkey wants to undermine the Astana track, but it failed in doing so due to honest efforts of Russia and Iran and the seriousness of the Syrian Arab Republic delegation.

He noted that the Syrian Arab Republic delegation has voiced readiness to discuss all issues that can save Syrian lives and put an end to terrorism, and that extensive efforts were exerted with Russia and Iran to ensure the success of this round of meetings and reach satisfactory results.

On whether the absence of the “armed opposition” delegation means deviating from the cessation of hostilities agreement, al-Jaafari said that this interpretation is correct, and beyond that their failure to commit to the date specified for the meeting show that their carelessness regarding the whole process.

On the nature of the papers discussed during this round, al-Jaafari said that no official papers were submitted practically, and only ideas were discussed, as the only paper that was discussed was one on demining the archeological city of Palmyra.

Regarding whether the issue of forming a constitutional committee was discussed during the Astana talks, al-Jaafari said that this issue was not proposed or discussed during the meetings.

Al-Jaafari later said that Syrian Arab Republic delegation held an additional meeting with the Russian delegation.

“We conducted an additional meeting with the Russian delegation and listened to a proposal on the constitution, and we have ideas on this matter which are under discussion,” al-Jaafari said in a press statement.

“This is an additional clarification about what I said during the press conference. It is a rising issue that was not on the agenda of our activities over the past two days, and we dealt with this topic at an additional session,” he added.

Prior to al-Jaafari’s statements,  Kazakh Deputy Foreign Minister Akylbek Kamaldinov  announced in the press conference the conclusion of the third round of Astana talks, stressing that these negotiations are an important part of tripartite and multipartite talks, and that it’s an honor for Kazakhstan to host this meeting.

Kamaldinov stressed that the meetings in Astana are an integral part of the Geneva process which revived hope in resolving the crisis in Syria, adding that the international community is holding out hope that the Astana process will help resolve the crisis.

He pointed out that an agreement to fix the cessation of combat activities was reached in Astana along with forming a group to monitor breaches of this cessation, in addition to reaching agreement on criteria for exchanging detainees.

Kamaldinov said that there still many complicated tasks ahead, but what was achieved so far indicates that the Astana process is very valuable and important.

Earlier today, Head of the Press Service of Kazakhstan’s Foreign Ministry Anuar Zhaynakov announced that heads of the delegations representing the three guarantor states of the Astana process on Syria will hold a meeting on Wednesday.

In statements to reporters, Zhaynakov said that the meeting will be held in presence of Kazakh Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov.

The Russian delegation, headed by Presidential Envoy for Astana talks Alexander Lavrentiev, and the Iranian delegation, headed by Iranian Assistant Foreign Minister Hossein Jaberi Ansari, also held a meeting in the framework of third Astana meeting.

Later, Director of Asia and Africa Department of the Kazakh Foreign Ministry Aidarbek Tumatov announced that a delegation from the “armed opposition” will arrive in Astana on Wednesday evening to join the ongoing talks on Syria. This is contrary to what was announced by the spokesperson of the armed groups Osama Abu Zaid who has said that they decided not to participate in the 3rd Astana meeting under the pretext that the cessation of hostilities agreement was not implemented.

On Tuesday, the Syrian Arab Republic delegation to the third Astana meeting, headed by Bashar al-Jaafari, held meetings with the Russian and Iranian delegations, with al-Jaafari announcing in press statements following his second meeting with Lavrentiev that they discussed with the Russian delegation all the preparations to ensure the success of Astana 3 in order to guarantee that it will produce positive results that match the huge effort put in by Russia, Iran, and the Syrian government.

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