Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says the negotiations will start on July 10 in Kazakhstan, coinciding with UN-backed peace talks in Geneva.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attends a news conference during BRICS FMs meeting in Beijing on June 19, 2017. He announced peace talks will take place in Astana on July 10.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attends a news conference during BRICS FMs meeting in Beijing on June 19, 2017. He announced peace talks will take place in Astana on July 10.

Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov announced on Monday that the next round of peace talks for Syria will take place in Kazakhstan's capital Astana on July 10.

The meeting is set to coincide with UN-sponsored Syria peace talks that begin on the same day in Geneva.

"The latest meeting of participants will take place in Astana on July 10," Lavrov said at a news conference in Beijing, quoted on Russia's foreign ministry website.

UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura – who announced the date for the Geneva round on Saturday – will take part in the Russian-backed Astana talks, Lavrov said.

It was not immediately clear whether both peace talks would take place simultaneously.

"The subject is currently being discussed," a spokesman for De Mistura told AFP in Geneva.

Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova confirmed to agencies that July 10 has been agreed upon as the date for the beginning of the talks.

Unsuccessful

A new round of Astana talks had been scheduled for June but was then indefinitely postponed as key players could not decide on the future of fragile safe zones agreed for Syria in May.

Russia and Iran, which back Bashar al Assad's forces in the war, and Turkey, a supporter of opposition forces, signed an agreement on May 4 to set up four safe zones.

Lavrov said on Monday that the de-escalation zones "are one of the possible options to move forward together."

Moscow has spearheaded the Astana talks since the start of the year as it tries to turn its game-changing military intervention on the ground into a negotiated settlement.

The fragile negotiations seen as a complement to the broader UN-backed talks in Geneva have involved armed rebels and government officials and have focused mainly on military issues.

The last Geneva talks ended on May 19 after four days without making any substantial progress.

The six-year Syrian conflict has killed more than 320,000 people and seen nearly two-thirds uprooted from their homes.

Source: AFP