US says it has not received formal invitation to Syria talks in Astana

The United States has not received a formal invitation to Syria peace talks being organized by Russia and Turkey to be held in the Kazakh capital of Astana on Jan. 23, the U.S. State Department said on Friday.

“To my knowledge, we’ve not received an invitation, a formal invitation, to the talks. We’ve not received any kind of formal invitation to the Astana meeting,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner said at a daily briefing.

“We support any effort aimed at getting political negotiations back up and running in Geneva and aim at solidifying the ceasefire in Syria. And while we haven’t been a direct party to these – this specific initiative, we have been in close contact with both the Russians and the Turks as this has gone forward, and we would encourage the incoming administration to continue to pursue those efforts.”

Turkish, Russian and Iranian officials meet ahead of Astana summit in Moscow

In this context, officials from Turkey, Russia and Iran met in Moscow on Friday in preparation of a summit on Syria that will take place Jan. 23 in Kazakhstan, according to a Foreign Ministry statement.
Mikhail Bogdanov, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Sergey Vershinin, Director of the Russian MFA Department for Middle East and North Africa, Hossein Jaberi Ansari, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister and Sedat Onal Turkish Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were among the participants of the meeting, the statement said.The parties agreed to accelerate a political solution process in Syria.

Negotiations to reach a resolution to the six-year war in Syria are due to begin in Kazakhstan’s capital of Astana between the Syrian government and opposition.

Following last month’s Syria cease-fire deal, the Astana meeting comes as part of ongoing efforts by Turkey and Russia to promote a political solution in war-torn Syria.

Syria has been locked in a devastating civil war since early 2011, when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests – which erupted as part of the Arab Spring uprisings – with unexpected ferocity.

Since then, hundreds of thousands of people are believed to have been killed and millions more displaced by the conflict.