Syria’s government and opposition negotiators could soon hold face-to-face talks for the first time, U.N. mediator Staffan de Mistura said on Thursday, the penultimate day of a round of peace talks in Geneva.
Jordan is intensifying diplomatic efforts to help forge an agreement between the United States and Russia to establish a safe or de-escalation zone in southern Syria. Jordan hopes to prevent the vast Syrian Badia area, which extends along Jordan’s northern borders with Syria, from turning into a battlefield involving US-led coalition forces and rebel allies on the one hand, and regime and Iran-backed militias on the other.
The progress of the Astana talks on the Syrian settlement may be threatened by states cutting off diplomatic relations with Qatar, depending on Turkey and Iran’s involvement in this diplomatic standoff, Tarek Ahmad, a member of the Damascus Platform opposition group and a member of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP) said.
The European Union extended its restrictive measures against the Syrian regime until 1 June 2018, a decision in line with the EU strategy on Syria which states that the EU will maintain its restrictive measures the regime and its supporters as long as the repression of civilians continues.
China on Tuesday expressed the hope that relevant parties in Syria make use of peace talks in Astana and Geneva to contribute to the political solution to the issue.
For the first time, all parties to Syria’s conflict — including the divided opposition — have agreed to take part in expert talks to help lay the foundation for a new constitution, the UN special envoy for the country said Monday.
Outside the headlines, something remarkable is going on in Syria. The Kurds, making a long-term play for an autonomous region, seem to have decided that their best bet is to buy it from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. And the US is signaling that it may be on-board — a startling reflection of its pro-Russian, anti-Turkish policy.
The ground-breaking agreement on establishing de-escalation zones in Syria, signed by Russia, Iran and Turkey at the fourth round of the Astana talks last week, provides for demilitarising the eastern countryside of Damascus, the northern suburb of Homs, the northwestern city of Idlib, and the southern one of Daraa.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will discuss de-escalation zones in Syria when they meet in Alaska this month, Russian news agencies quoted Lavrov’s deputy Mikhail Bogdanov as saying on Friday.