THE TWO SETS OF PEACE TALKS (a) Russia, Iran and Turkey in Astana  (b) The US, and Europe – with the UN – in Geneva


Photo: Survivors climb over the rubble following a regime attack on rebel-held Hamouria near Damascus last week © AFP
Syria’s opposition has launched a push for US and European support to revive peace talks in Geneva and stifle growing Russian control of diplomatic efforts to end the country’s near seven-year civil war. The UN-backed Geneva talks have for months looked all but dead as Russia’s own diplomatic channels have come to dominate Syria negotiations. Nasr al-Hariri, chief negotiator for the Syrian Negotiations Commission, Syria’s umbrella opposition group, is lobbying in Washington and European capitals to bolster the next round of Geneva talks against parallel negotiations in the Kazakhstan capital Astana. Those negotiations are backed by Russia and Iran — which support President Bashar al-Assad’s regime — and Turkey. “Now it’s time for the Americans and others to think seriously about a political solution to achieve many goals,” Mr Hariri said in an interview in Brussels on Monday. “The only way to reach a political solution has to be in Geneva.”

in Brussels and in Beirut  The Financial Times 15 January 2018