Syrian opposition returns to negotiating table

Indo Asian News Service

Astana, May 4 (IANS) Delegates representing the armed Syrian opposition returned to the table to take part in negotiations here on Thursday aimed at curbing the conflict, Kazakhstan's Foreign Ministry said.

"The opposition is at the plenary meeting of all delegations now," a ministry spokesperson told Efe news.

Representatives of the Syrian government, the armed opposition and the guarantor nations Russia, Iran and Turkey are meeting for the fourth round of the so-called Astana Process in a bid to prop up a shaky ceasefire and agree on the creation of four "security zones" to provide shelter to those displaced by the fighting.

Shortly before the plenary meeting, opposition representative Yahia al-Aridi reiterated his demand that the talks could not advance unless there was first an end to the Syrian government's bombing of areas under the opposition's control.

The UN Special Representative for Syria, Steffan de Mistura, is taking part in the talks to support efforts aimed at consolidating the ceasefire.

The UN Security Council countries have recently reiterated that Geneva remains the centre of political negotiations to end the Syrian conflict, while in Astana military issues are discussed.