UN Envoy Urges Syria Rebels to Return to Talks

The United Nations’ envoy for Syria is calling on the armed opposition’s delegation to return to the talks underway in Kazakhstan where a proposal to establish safe zones in the country is a top issue.

The opposition on Wednesday left the talks in Astana, the Kazakh capital, demanding the Syrian government follow through with an agreement to halt attacks and release detainees.

Envoy Staffan de Mistura says he hopes the delegation will rejoin the talks on Thursday.

De Mistura said he hopes “they will return because it is important to look at the possibility of de-escalation.”

He appealed to Syrian opposition delegates not to “destroy the possibility of good news related to this issue.”

Earlier the day the presidents of Russia and Turkey say they support the formation of so-called safe zones in Syria and hope an agreement about them will be reached at the multilateral Syria talks underway in Kazakhstan.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan met on Wednesday at the Russian presidential complex in the resort city of Sochi.

They spoke to reporters at a joint press conference after their meeting.

Erdogan says he and Putin discussed Russia’s plan for safe, or de-escalation, zones in Syria.

The Turkish leader says he hopes “this zone of de-escalation will be accepted” at talks in the Kazakh capital, which also include representatives of Iran and the United States.

Relations between Moscow and Ankara deteriorated after Turkey shot down a Russian warplane at the Syrian border in November 2015 and Russia responded with trade and tourism sanctions.

But Putin said on Wednesday that relations have been restored.






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