Syrian peace talks in Astana delayed by one day

The Astana initiative has left the West on the sidelines of the latest push to end the war in Syria that has claimed more than 300,000 lives since 2011

Syria's rebels won't begin negotiating a political settlement with the government until measures are taken to bolster a flagging cease-fire and address urgent humanitarian concerns, the head of the opposition delegation to planned talks in Kazakhstan told The Associated Press today. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has previously said he has "high hopes" for increased engagement between the USA and Russian Federation to fight ISIS.

A new round of United Nations -brokered peace talks for Syria is scheduled for February 23. Since Russia furnished Syrian opposition representatives with a draft constitution for Syria in January talks in Astana, Ankara has refrained from discussing the future administrative make-up of Syria at the meeting in Kazakhstan, in contrast to Moscow's attempts to make the talks a venue for political discussions.

"The government is ready.as part of efforts towards the next meeting in Astana to exchange detainees for men, women and children - civilians and soldiers - kidnapped by terrorists", SANA said, referring to the rebels.

Muslit, however, said the opposition had yet to receive an agenda for the upcoming negotiations. The Kazakh Foreign Ministry did not give a reason for the delay.

U.N. Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura, speaking in Italy, said he would apply the agenda laid out in a U.N. Security Council resolution aimed at ending the conflict.

Rebel groups had threatened to boycott the Moscow-backed talks in the Kazakh capital Astana, saying Russian Federation had failed to secure Damascus's compliance with the ceasefire. Jordan will also be represented by a "high-level delegation", government spokesman Mohamed Momani said.

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