Syria serious about talks in Astana: PM

Damascus, Jan 22 (IANS) Syria’s Prime Minister Imad Khamis on Sunday said that his government is serious about the imminent Syrian talks in Astana, noting that Damascus welcomes any initiative to restore peace, media reports said.

According to pan-Arab al-Mayadeen TV, Khamis’s remarks came as the Syrian delegation to the inter-Syrian Astana meeting flew to the Kazakh capital to take part in the Monday meeting, which will put the government delegation with the rebels face to face for the first time in the country’s nearly six-year-old conflict.

The Prime Minister said the priority of the meeting is to kick the foreign terrorists out of Syria, Xinhua news agency reported.

Khamis said his government welcomes any initiative that could be conducive in restoring peace and security to Syria.

The talks in Astana are the result of a Russian-Turkish understanding, which started with a ceasefire in the country excluding terror-designated groups such as the al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front and the Islamic State (IS) group.

A day earlier, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said that establishing a ceasefire in Syria is the priority of the imminent Syrian negotiations in Astana.

Assad said everything will be discussed in the talks slated for January 23 in the Kazakh capital, and it must rely on the Syrian constitution.

He said the conference will be in the shape of negotiations between the government and the rebel groups to reach a ceasefire and allow the rebels to join the reconciliation deals with the government.