Astana meeting next week expected to speed up forming constitutional committee

DAILY SABAH
ANKARA
Published 19.11.2018 19:26
Updated 21.11.2018 00:55

The next international meeting for the Astana talks, launched by Turkey, Russia and Iran, will be held on Nov. 28-29 in the capital of Kazakhstan as part of guarantor countries' efforts to reach a resolution in the Syrian civil war and forming a constitutional committee.

"The guarantors of the Astana process, the Russian Federation, the Republic of Turkey and the Islamic Republic of Iran, agreed to hold the next 11th international high-level meeting on Syria in the framework of the Astana process on Nov. 28-29 in the capital of Kazakhstan," Kazakh Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov said in a press briefing yesterday.

Abdrakhmanov underscored that delegations from the guarantors, the Bashar Assad regime and the Syrian armed opposition will take part in the meeting in line with previous meetings' formats. He added that the United Nations and Jordan were also invited to the meeting as observers.

The first meeting of the Astana process was held in Turkey in January 2017 with the aim of bringing all of the warring parties in the Syrian conflict to the table to facilitate U.N.-sponsored peace talks in Geneva. The last meeting of the Astana talks at a high level was also held in Sochi on July 30-31.

Previously, the Astana talks led to the establishment of four de-escalation zones in the northwestern province of Idlib, north of the central city of Homs, the Eastern Ghouta area outside Damascus and in the southern provinces of Deraa and Quneitra.

The partial cease-fire, however, was short-lived. Until recently, regime forces backed by Russia and Iran recaptured three of the areas through heavy bombardments.

A full-fledged offensive by the regime in Idlib was prevented by Turkish and Russian intervention. On Sept. 17, both countries agreed to implement a demilitarized zone between opposition and regime forces, warding off a possible humanitarian disaster.

The Astana talks also support the establishment of the U.N.-backed constitutional committee in Syria as a way to find a political solution. The committee is expected to carve out a new Syrian constitution to lay the groundwork for democratic elections. Following the meeting on Nov. 28-29, efforts to form a constitutional committee are expected to be stepped up.

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