Russia, Turkey and Iran have postponed a planned round of talks on Syria in Kazakhstan, which Moscow had proposed to hold on June 12 and June 13, the Kazakh Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.
A spokesman for the ministry said it was unclear when the next round of negotiations, which have also involved the Damascus government and some rebel factions, could take place.
Mikhail Bogdanov, a Russian deputy foreign minister, said the negotiations could resume on June 20, adding the date was preliminary, according to Russian news agencies.
Bogdanov said the meeting was postponed because the delegations were not prepared, he said without providing further details.
On May 4, Russia, Turkey and Iran agreed to create four de-escalation zones in Syria, in the latest effort to resolve that country’s six-year conflict.
All three countries are sponsors of the latest round of ceasefire talks in Astana, Kazakhstan, and a largely ignored ceasefire that was signed late in 2016.
Russia and Iran are both key backers of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while Turkey supports Syrian opposition forces.
The preliminary agreement, signed in Astana, was put forward by Russia and would create security zones in Idlib province, to the north of the city of Homs, in Eastern Ghouta near Damascus, and in the south of Syria, Russian state-run Sputnik news agency reported.
A working group is to decide “boundaries of disarmament, areas of tension and security areas, as well as to address technical issues related to the implementation of the memorandum,” Sputnik said, citing the signed document.
Such zones, also referred to as non-conflict or safe zones, are meant to be areas where civilians can live without being targeted by any party in Syria’s war.
However, key issues would involve whether and how the zones would be enforced.
Syria’s Foreign Ministry said Wednesday it accepted the Russian proposal to create de-escalation zones, vowing not to shell these areas in compliance with the December ceasefire agreement.
Osama Zeid, a member of the opposition High Negotiations Committee, told reporters in Astana that the Syrian armed opposition rejected any agreement that would divide the country. (NAN)