The United Nations Security Council says intra-Syrian negotiations organized by Iran, Russia, and Turkey in the Kazakh capital city of Astana set the stage for stalled UN-brokered peace talks to resume in the Swiss city of Geneva.
In a press statement published on Friday, the 15-member body said it had recognized that “the continuation of political negotiations was made possible by the ceasefire developed through the Astana process.”
The Security Council also welcomed the conclusion of the latest round of the UN-mediated discussions in Geneva.
The first round of the Astana talks, organized by guarantor states Iran, Russia and Turkey, took place on January 23-24 and brought together representatives from the Damascus government and opposition groups. The second round of the negotiations, similarly brokered by the trio, was held on February 15-16.
UN-brokered talks for Syria, which had been going on for a long time prior to the Astana talks, had, however, been stalled for almost a year.
But shortly after the warring sides were seated at the negotiating table in Astana, a path was found forward to also resume the UN talks. The fourth round of the UN-mediated discussions was held between February 23 and March 3 in Geneva, and a fifth one has been scheduled for March 23.
Elsewhere in its statement, the UNSC called on Syria’s warring sides to engage “constructively and without preconditions” on the agenda set out by UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura when they resume the next round of the Geneva talks.
The council also urged Syria’s opposite sides to fully implement the nationwide ceasefire — which was also facilitated by the three guarantor states and which came into force in December 2016 — and end truce violations.
It further encouraged members of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) to use their influence on Syria’s warring sides to help “reduce violence, build confidence” and ensure the delivery of humanitarian access across the country.
Syria has been fighting different foreign-sponsored militant and terrorist groups since March 2011. De Mistura estimated last August that more than 400,000 people had been killed in the crisis until then.
Numerous rounds of UN talks have been being held to help end the conflict. De Mistura is the third envoy appointed by the world body to oversee the negotiations.