Resumption of Syria Peace Talks
by Stephen Lendman
Despite no contacts with US officials so far, Sergey Lavrov hopes prospects for conflict resolution are “more favorable” with Obama’s obstructionism no longer an issue. Negotiating with John Kerry accomplished nothing.
On February 15, peace talks will resume in Astana, Kazakhstan, scheduled for two days. Russia’s delegation is unchanged, led by its Syrian settlement envoy Alexander Lavrentyev.
According to Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, Syria’s delegation remains the same, led by its UN envoy Bashar al-Jaafari.
Bogdanov hopes Washington will participate at least as an observer. Its Kazakhstan ambassador attended January talks in this capacity. It’s unclear if anyone from Washington will come.
Opposition groups are attending. “(T)he task remains the same – to consolidate the ceasefire,” Bogdanov explained. Talks in Geneva will follow, scheduled for February 20, perhaps lasting as long as efforts are fruitful.
All opposition groups willing to negotiate conflict resolution are welcome to participate – other than UN-designated terrorist ones.
The so-called Saudi-cobbled together High Negotiations Committee (HNC) opposition announced a new delegation for February 20 Geneva talks.
Included are 10 representatives of militant groups along with 11 opposition politicians. The Ahrar al-Sham and Jaysh al-Islam terrorist groups aren’t participating. ISIS and al-Nusra representatives are excluded.
So-called National Coalition for Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces representative Nasr al-Hariri heads the umbrella HNC group.
Jaysh al-Islam’s Mohamad Alloush is out as chief negotiator, replaced by Mohamed Sabra. Talks will be watched closely to see if further progress can be made.
Russia is the lead player in trying to end six years of devastating war. Trump’s intentions remain to be seen.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”
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