Rabat – Russian President Vladimir Putin said his country, as well as Iran and Turkey had agreed to meet with Syrian President Bashar Al Assad for peace talks in the capital of Kazakhstan to resolve the Syrian political crisis.
Putin said the next step will be instituting a nationwide ceasefire. He added that the takeover of Aleppo by Assad’s forces this week had not required the support of Russian airstrikes, Iranian support, or any other kind of outside help.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennadiy Gatilov said earlier today that the talks are expected to take place in mid-January 2017.
The Russian Ambassador to Turkey was assassinated this week by a man who committed the violent act to avenge the deaths of Syrians by Russian airstrikes. Turkey’s official position has been against Assad’s regime, though the country has worked with Russia in anti-Islamic State campaigns near the Turko-Syrian border.
Kazakhstan, a former Soviet republic, has remained a close ally of Russia since gaining independence in 1991. The talks will take place in Putin’s home field, instead of a location preferred by Washington, which vocally supported the rebels in their push for regime change.
It remains unclear what role the United States – which will be in the midst of a transition of power from President Barack Obama to President-elect Donald Trump as the talks occur – will play in the negotiations.
The Diplomat highlighted last week that Kazakhstan has maintained a “longstanding strategic partnership” with Assad’s regime and will support Russia’s lasting influence in the country.
Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev – who, like his neighbors, runs a cult of personality-based government – will also support efforts to suppress Islamist anti-Assad factions, some of whom may pose a threat to Kazakhstan’s security.
Kazakhstan has remained officially neutral on the Syrian Civil War since its start in 2011. In 2015, the Central Asian country invited 30 leaders from factions opposing Assad to conduct peace talks, which, ultimately, failed.