By Jahnvi Upreti
Talks between Syrian government representatives and 15 rebel factions began at a hotel in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, on Monday, Jan. 23.
The talks were scheduled to last two days, according to The Guardian.
Kazakhstan was chosen as the negotiation site for the talks because it has emphasized its role as a neutral participant with the hopes of “(finding) a solution to the Syrian crisis through negotiations based on mutual trust and understanding,” according to The Astana Times.
The purpose of the meeting was to extend the ceasefire currently in place between the Syrian government and opposition groups, according to Al Jazeera.
The meeting marks the first attempt at direct conversation to include both the government forces as well as the armed opposition, The Guardian reported.
Meanwhile, Russia is transitioning from its role as a participant in the war to a peaceful mediator, according to The Guardian. Such a change may be difficult, as Russia’s ability to remain objective is questionable due to its heavy involvement with the Iranian and Syrian governments.
Following the second and final day of the Astana talks, both sides have agreed to establish a mechanism to guarantee compliance with the current ceasefire, according to The Astana Times.
The conclusion states that both sides will “determine all modalities of the ceasefire” and to “reiterate their determination to fight jointly against ISIL/Daesh and Al-Nusra and to separate them from opposition groups,” The Astana Times reported.
Further peace talks are scheduled to take place in Geneva on Feb. 8, according to CNN.
Some officials are concerned that the talks in Geneva are “too much too soon” and will not produce any substantial political action, CNN reported.
The United Nations envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, will share the results of the Astana talks at a U.N. meeting in New York the week of Sunday, Jan. 29, Al Jazeera reported.
The same source reported that the meeting differs from all other attempts at negotiating the situation in Syria because all other previous attempts have been headed by the U.N.
The talks are recorded as the most serious effort in months to work toward the end of the debilitating war in Syria, which is currently in its sixth year and has left the country in ruins, according to Al Jazeera.
The war has killed hundreds of thousands and has displaced more than half of the Syrian population, according to The New York Times.
The U.S. did not send a delegation to Astana, however, U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan George Krol was sent to attend the negotiations, according to CNN.