By Kamila Aliyeva
The Astana talks on the Syrian crisis brokered by Russia, Iran, and Turkey scheduled to start on February 15 have been delayed by one day due to the late arrival of the delegations of Turkey and the Syrian opposition, Kazakhstan's foreign ministry reported.
Russia's Defense Ministry spokesman said that the delegations will hold working meetings in the bilateral format on February 15 to clarify the positions of the sides and to announce proposals to ensure the ceasefire regime in Syria.
The meetings are expected to focus on the implementation of the ceasefire regime in the Syrian Arab Republic, the measures to stabilize the situation in particular areas and the adoption of rules for a joint operational group.
The final document could be approved at the Astana talks on February 16, a senior official of the Russian Defense Ministry said, RIA Novosti reported.
“The final document could be agreed upon at a plenary session with the participation of all delegations which is to be held tomorrow [February 16]," he said.
The document to monitor the ceasefire in Syria is expected to provide the sanctions for its violation while the ceasefire monitoring will be carried out under the auspices of the UN and it is planned to consolidate this principle during the negotiations in Geneva, RIA Novosti reported with the reference to a source in one of the delegations.
Most of the Syrian experts have already admitted that the Astana peace talks promote an early settlement of the Syrian crisis and contribute to the restoration of the UN-brokered peace talks in Geneva.
The delegations of Damascus, Syrian armed opposition, UN representatives, and representatives of Jordan and the United States were invited to the high-level meeting. All participants of the meeting have already arrived.
The UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura will not participate in the talks.
The participation of representatives of Jordan in the talks is an attempt to further decrease the flow of weapons into Syria as this country used to be a transit point for weapons and insurgents.
It was not clear until the very last moment whether the delegation of the armed opposition will take part in the talks, while the Free Syrian Army expressed its readiness to come to Astana on Tuesday night [February 14].
The U.S. will be presented at the meeting at the ambassadorial level.
“The State Department has received an invitation from the government of Kazakhstan to participate as an observer in the negotiations on Syria,” Embassy spokesman said adding that the U.S. Embassy in Astana will represent the United States at the talks.
He added that the U.S. remains committed to a political resolution of the Syrian crisis.
Despite all the arguments between politicians about the importance of the results of Astana meeting it lays the groundwork for the much-anticipated reconciliation of Geneva peace talks.
The first Astana talks on Syrian settlement brokered by Russia, Turkey, and Iran took place in the Kazakh capital on January 23- 24. They came as the first since the beginning of Syrian civil war in 2011 when the government of Syria and the armed opposition sat together at the negotiations table.
The talks resulted in Moscow-Tehran-Ankara agreement on the establishment of a tripartite mechanism to monitor the ceasefire in Syria.
Many experts assessed the agreement between Russia, Turkey, and Iran on the establishment of a tripartite mechanism as a step to a political solution which might end the six-year war.
Armed conflict continues in Syria since March 2011. Government troops are confronted by militants of different armed groups. Russia has begun airstrikes on terrorist facilities in Syria since 30 September 2015. The Russian military involvement follows an official request from President Bashar Assad to President Vladimir Putin.
The UN has repeatedly tried and failed to end the Syrian conflict, which has killed 300,000 and displaced 11 million since its beginning 6 years ago.