Syria talks in Astana 'to be held behind closed doors'

UN-sponsored Syria peace talks from 23 Feb UN Syria envoy

This was the second meeting between the two diplomats before the talks.

The talks are likely to focus on bolstering a shaky ceasefire on the ground.

Disputes over the agenda have helped to torpedo previous rounds of Syria peace talks. On Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he welcomed closer engagement with Washington to fight "absolute evil" in Syria, according to Russian state news agency TASS.

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The Astana talks are being brokered by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's ally Russian Federation and rebel backer Turkey, which are all key players in the conflict.

Russia, Turkey and Iran sponsored in January the first direct negotiation between military formations and the Syrian government in this city and agreed to establish a tripartite mechanism to control ceasefire.

De Mistura says the talks will be in line with UN Security Council Resolution 2254 aimed at ending the conflict in the Arab country. He said the negotiations should start with discussion of the transition. The Kazakh Foreign Ministry did not give a reason for the delay.

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During the meeting with representatives of both delegations in attendance, the two sides exchanged views on the latest developments on Astana talks process and the agenda for the second round of the global meeting aimed at finding a political solution for the Syrian crisis.

Mohammad Alloush, of the Islam Army rebel group, said he will insist on discussing the December 30 cease-fire at the talks in the Kazakh capital, Astana, which have been postponed to tomorrow. Jordan will also be represented by a "high-level delegation", government spokesman Mohamed Momani said.

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