China / World

Russia, Turkey, Iran near deal over Syria truce efforts

By Agencies in Astana (China Daily) Updated: 2017-01-25 08:18

Russia, Turkey and Iran on Tuesday were working on a statement to reaffirm a fragile cease-fire between Syrian warring parties that could agree to establishing a mechanism to observe its compliance and pave the way for a UN-led peace settlement.

Delegations from the Syrian government and opposition were holding indirect talks for a second day in the Kazakh capital at a time when Turkey and Russia each want to disentangle themselves from the fighting.

That has led them into an ad hoc alliance that some believe represents the best chance for progress toward a peace deal, especially with the United States distracted by domestic issues.

However, after two days of deliberations an initial draft communique seen by Reuters suggests the powers have agreed little beyond reaffirming the need for a political resolution and to reaffirm a Dec 30 cease-fire that each side accuses the other of violating.

Delegates from Russia, Turkey and Iran were wrangling over the terms of the final communique which would need to be approved - though not formally signed - by the government and opposition delegations.

UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura, attending the Astana talks, said the three powers were closing in on a final statement that would reaffirm the current cessation of hostilities between the warring parties. "We're not far from a final declaration," he said.

Diplomats said there was a nuance in the language being used, with the Syrian government opposed to the use of the word cease-fire as opposed to cessation of hostilities, which suggests more short-term arrangements.

"There are pledges from the Russia to reinforce the truce in areas where there are continued violations, but we're waiting for more than just statements," opposition negotiator Osama Abu Zaid said.

A rebel source said they were discussing a draft of the final text with their Turkish backers.

A Syrian government source said consultations were ongoing to break obstacles presented by Turkey, which he said was trying to introduce elements beyond the Astana framework.

The draft statement from Monday includes a paragraph suggesting the powers would either consider or establish "a trilateral mechanism to observe and ensure full compliance with the cease-fire, prevent any provocation and determine all modalities."

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