Latest Astana Process Talks Focus on Humanitarian Issues

The two-day, seventh round of Astana Process on Syria, which concluded Oct. 31 in the Kazakh capital, focused on adherence to previously agreed de-escalation zones and humanitarian issues, including detainees, prisoners of war and missing persons. It resulted in the adoption of the Joint Statement by Iran, Russia and Turkey regarding the issues of a comprehensive settlement of the Syrian conflict. Kazakh Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov presented the final document on behalf of the guarantor states.

The statement emphasises the progress in the fight against terrorism and elimination of DAESH/ISIL, Nusra Front and all other terrorist groups as a result of the launch of the de-escalation areas. The document calls for stepping up efforts to advance the UN-led political process in Geneva and considering the Russian Federation’s proposal to convene a Congress of the national dialogue in accordance with the Geneva process. The parties emphasised the need to further increase the international humanitarian aid and take confidence-building measures, including the release of detainees/abductees, the handover of the bodies, as well as identification of missing persons.

“We hope that all the agreements reached today are fully implemented. All the items on the agenda, including the issues related to hostages, detainees, missing persons, humanitarian demining and other issues discussed during the seventh round in Astana, are of great importance for all parties,” Abdrakhmanov said, presenting the document. He also added that the Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev fully supports the Astana Process and looks forward to meaningful talks in Geneva.

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev also met Oct. 31 with the heads of Russian, Turkish, Iranian delegations as well as observer delegations from the U.S., Jordan and the UN.

The Astana Process enhances the efficiency of the Geneva talks, said Nazarbayev, emphasising the positive results of the previous rounds.

“You have solved the problem of de-escalation of military actions in several regions. You have determined further mechanisms. The humanitarian situation is improved. It is important to preserve the ceasefire regime,” noted the Kazakh President, as he addressed the delegations.

“Any kind of negotiations and dialogue is a path to the future, said Nazarbayev. “We are making every effort to create the necessary conditions to continue negotiations,” Nazarbayev said.

The Syrian government, the Syrian armed opposition, delegations from Iran, Russia and Turkey attended the closed-door negotiations. U.S. Acting Assistant Secretary of State David Satterfield and a delegation from Jordan and the United Nations (UN) also attended. A UN delegation was led by Milos Strugar.

The next Astana process talks will be in late December.