Astana : Peace talks between the Syrian government and armed rebel forces began on Monday in the Kazakh capital Astana.

The talks between President Bashar Al Assad and representatives of the armed factions opposed to his regime started at 1.40 p.m., some 40 minutes later than scheduled.

Osama Abu Zeid, a representative of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebel delegation attending the talks at a hotel in Astana, told Efe news that the conversations would be conducted indirectly and behind closed doors.

Zeid said Russia and Turkey had “reached that decision today (Monday)”.

The vice-president of the Syrian National Coalition, the main Syrian opposition political group, Abdul Hakim Bashar, told Efe news that the opposition delegation was “not against direct talks with a UN mediator or the two guarantor countries, Russia and Turkey.”

Russia’s special envoy Alexander Lavrentiev was optimistic about the outcome of the talks in Astana.–IANS

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