0825 GMT January 29, 2020
The talks began between the Syrian government and armed opposition on Monday.
The next round, due to start later on Tuesday, is reportedly to see the participation of the political opposition instead of militants on the opposite side.
Iran, Russia, and Turkey have organized the talks in an effort to work out a political solution to the almost-six-year-long conflict in Syria. The three also play intermediary roles at the talks, where a United Nations (UN) envoy for Syria is also present.
Analysts say the latest attempt at negotiating peace, which is a first one seeing cooperation among Tehran, Moscow, and Ankara, has “sidelined” the Unites States. While the US ambassador to Kazakhstan is in attendance, he is there only as an observer.
Last month, Iran, Russia, and Turkey worked out a deal enabling the evacuation of civilians and militants from Aleppo as the Syrian forces were about to retake the northwestern city from Takfiri militants. That also paved the way for a ceasefire applying to the entire country, which has been largely holding.
In contrast, numerous rounds of UN-brokered talks and attempts by other players to enforce a ceasefire have failed in the past.
The ongoing talks mainly focus on consolidating the newly-negotiated ceasefire.
Iran’s delegation at the talks is headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Jaberi Ansari.
At the end of the first round, the Iranian, Russian, and Turkish delegations held a trilateral meeting to draft a statement to be produced at the end of the talks.
On Monday, Syria’s Minister of State for National Reconciliation Affairs, Ali Haidar, said the talks were also addressing the prospect of the Syrian government and opposition carrying out joint anti-terrorism efforts and an absolute differentiation of the opposition from terrorist groups. The ceasefire and the talks have already excluded the Takfiri terrorist groups of Daesh and al-Nusra based on a consensus between Damascus and its opponents.
Bashar al-Ja’afari, who is Syria’s UN ambassador and the head of the Syrian delegation in the Astana talks, criticized the delegates of the foreign-sponsored militant groups over raising “unrealistic” issues during the first day.
Mohammed Alloush is the chief negotiator for the armed opposition and is the head of the so-called Jaysh al-Islam.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s point man on Syria, Alexander Lavrentiev, who is heading the Russian delegation, said, “If at the beginning, the members of the [opposition] delegation were somewhat under stress, the level of distress significantly decreased.”
He added that the opposition understood that Russia “is a reliable partner, who remains true to its words, and if it guarantees any actions, or guarantees any agreement, you can rely on it.”
Lavrentiev said, “All the parties have shown [a] reasonable approach” during the first day. “At the end, [parties] tried to avoid some actions that could lead to the failure of this very important — as we consider it — international event.”
Meanwhile, UN-brokered talks will be held in the Swiss city of Geneva in February according to schedule.