By Diyar Guldogan
Participants have been arriving in the Kazakh capital Astana on Wednesday to attend an eighth round of Syria talks, Kazakhstan’s Foreign Ministry said Wednesday.
"Delegations of the guarantor countries of the cessation of hostilities in Syria are arriving in Astana to participate in the next round of talks, which will be held on December 21-22," the ministry said in a statement.
Astana on Thursday will host another two-day meeting attended by representatives from Russia, Turkey and Iran, which are the guarantor states that brokered a cease-fire in Syria in December 2016, leading to the Astana peace talks that are running parallel to Geneva talks.
The Turkish delegation is chaired by the deputy undersecretary of the foreign ministry, Sedat Onal, while Alexander Lavrentiev, Russian president's special envoy for Syria, leads the Russian team, and Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Jaberi Ansari heads Iran’s delegation.
The ministry said representatives of the Syrian regime, armed opposition groups, as well as delegations from the UN, Jordan and the U.S. will also participate.
It added that bilateral multilateral consultations are planned for Thursday and a plenary meeting is scheduled for Friday.
The seventh round of Syria peace talks ended without agreement on October in Astana.
Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since 2011, when the Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity. Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in the conflict, according to the UN.
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