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US won’t send delegation to Syria talks in Astana

The peace talks on Syria, which are due to be held in the Kazakhstan capital of Astana on January 23, will not be attended by a special US delegation, said the US State Department acting spokesman, Mark Toner in a statement, cited by Reuters.

“Given our presidential inauguration and the immediate demands of the transition, a delegation from Washington will not be attending the Astana conference,” said Toner.

However, according to the State Department, the US will be represented at the meeting by its Ambassador to Kazakhstan George A. Krol.

The Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov announced earlier in the week that Russia had extended a formal invitation to the US to take part in the upcoming talks on Syria.

“We think it would be the right thing to invite the representatives of the UN and the new US administration to the meeting,” Lavrov said on Wednesday while speaking at a press conference summing up the results of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s work in 2016.

RT is reporting the following details:

Russia’s own delegation to the talks in Astana will include representatives of the foreign ministry and the defense ministry, Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov revealed on Thursday.

The United Nations will also be present at the talks, with UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura heading its delegation, the UN has confirmed.

Aiming to end the nearly six-year war in Syria, the international meeting will be held by Turkey, Russia, and Iran.

The meeting will involve negotiations between the Syrian government and opposition groups. Syrian President Bashar Assad said the talks will focus on achieving a ceasefire and allowing rebel groups to reach “reconciliation” deals with the government. Assad added that he hoped the meeting in Astana would be a platform to discuss “everything” with opposition groups.

The Syrian opposition delegation currently represents 14 militant groups. A leader of Jaysh al-Islam, Mohammed Alloush, said he would head the rebel delegation and work to end the “crimes” of the government and its allies.

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