The Dec. 22 8th rounds of Astana Process talks in the Kazakh capital to help de-escalate the conflict in Syria resulted in the adoption of a number of documents in the area of confidence building, as well as saw the reaffirmation of commitment of their participants to seek full elimination of terrorism and strengthen the political process in that country.
According to the joint communiqué by guarantor states Iran, Russia and Turkey, the sides will continue to try to strengthen the ceasefire regime and the functioning of the four de-escalation areas adopted during earlier Astana Process talks, said Kazakh Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov who read out the communiqué, adding he hopes the talks move the Geneva peace talks toward the implementation of UN Security Council resolution 2254.
The communiqué also noted that the sides plan to maintain regular contact in the lead up to the Jan. 29-30 Syrian national dialogue congress in Sochi and that the guarantor states will hold a Jan. 19-20 preparatory meeting.
Also during the latest talks, the sides adopted the “Regulation on the Working Group on the release of detainees/abductees and handover of the bodies as well as the identification of missing persons” and the “Joint statement on humanitarian mine action in Syria including the UNESCO list of cultural heritage sites.”
“Today Syria is going through a number of significant developments that offer us new opportunities to pave the way to a peaceful and lasting political settlement of this crisis,” Abdrakhmanov said. “This round of talks is convened at the end of the year and offers a timely opportunity to take a stop of the progress made and to identify the tasks that remain ahead.”
He added that the humanitarian situation in Syria has improved as a result of the de-escalation, though much remains to be done “such as the problem of exchange of detainees, which in our view, represent major obstacles in building confidence between Syrians.”
“In this regard, we urge the guarantors and Syrian parties to overcome their differences through dialogue and achieve the final agreement in this humanitarian issue,” Abdrakhmanov said.
Below is the full text of the joint communiqué.
The Islamic Republic of Iran, the Russian Federation and the Republic of Turkey as guarantors of the observance of the ceasefire regime in the Syrian Arab Republic:
reaffirming their strong and continued commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic;
welcoming progress in the implementation of the Memorandum on the creation of the de-escalation areas in the Syrian Arab Republic of 4 May 2017;
Welcome the achievements made in the fight against terrorism m Syria, particularly the defeat of ISIL and imminent liberation of all the Syrian territory from ISIL;
Reaffirm their determination to continue cooperation in order to ultimately eliminate DAESH/ISIL, Nusra Front and other terrorist entities as designated by the UN Security Council and to prevent the relocation of international terrorists to other countries and regions;
Express joint determination to continue coordinated efforts to ensure that the progress in reduction of violence is irreversible. They underscore the necessity to take urgent and active international steps in order to assist the Syrians in restoring unity of the country, and achieving a political solution of the crisis through an inclusive, free, fair and transparent Syrian-led and Syrian-owned process leading to a constitution enjoying the support of the Syrian people and free and fair elections with the participation of all eligible Syrians under appropriate UN supervision;
Reaffirm their determination to closely interact on a regular basis to support preparation for and convening of the Syrian national dialogue congress in Sochi [on 29-30 January 2018] with the participation of all segments of the Syrian society and call on the representatives of the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic and the opposition that are committed to the sovereignty, independence, unity, territorial integrity and non-fractional character of Syria to actively cooperate. To this end three guarantors will hold a special preparation meeting in Soсhi before the congress, on 19-20 January 2018;
Emphasise that they view the upcoming Syrian national dialogue congress as an initiative aimed at giving momentum to negotiation process under the UN auspices in Geneva and facilitating an intra-Syrian agreement based on mutual consent;
Adopt, with a view to building confidence between the conflicting parties in Syria, the “Regulation on the Working Group on the release of detainees/abductees and handover of the bodies as well as the identification of missing persons” and the “Joint statement on humanitarian mine action in Syria including the UNESCO list of cultural heritage sites”;
Reaffirm their determination to continue implementing the provisions of the Memorandum of 4 May 2017 and other decisions adopted earlier within the framework of the Astana process;
Emphasise the need to continue efforts aimed at strengthening the ceasefire regime and ensuring the effective functioning of all four de-escalation areas;
Express their sincere gratitude to the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, His Excellency Nursultan Nazarbayev and the Kazakh authorities for hosting in Astana the 8th high-level International Meeting on Syria;
Decide to hold the next high-level International Meeting on Syria in Astana in the second half of February 2018.