Home News Top Stories Peace talks in Astana put off to next month

Peace talks in Astana put off to next month

DAMASCUS/ASTANA

Kazakhstan said on Tuesday that the next talks to try to thrash out a Syria peace plan in Astana may be held in mid-September, according to the country’s foreign ministry.

Separately, a confidential United Nations report on North Korea sanctions violations says that two North Korean shipments to a Syrian government agency responsible for the country’s chemical weapons programme were intercepted in the past six months.

Kazakhstan’s foreign ministry wrote on Facebook that the timing of the talks would be set at a meeting this month between experts from Russia, Turkey and Iran and “provisionally, we could be talking about mid-September”.

The ministry said it was quoting diplomatic chief Kairat Abdrakhmanov’s comments to journalists on the sidelines of a government meeting.

Abdrakhmanov said that the date change was based on “information received from Russia.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told journalists in Moscow on Monday that the expert-level meeting would be held “by the end of the month or right at the start of September.”

He did not give a precise date for the full Astana talks. Russia had previously been planning a fresh round of talks in the Kazakh capital in late August.

Earlier peace talks in Astana saw Russia, Turkey and Iran hammer out a plan to establish safe zones across swathes of Syria.

UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura said last week that he hopes to launch “real, substantive” peace talks between the government and a still-to-be-formed unified Syrian opposition in October.

The report by a panel of independent UN experts, which was submitted to the UN Security Council earlier this month, gave no details on when or where the interdictions occurred or what the shipments contained.

The panel is investigating reported prohibited chemical, ballistic missile and conventional arms cooperation between Syria and the DPRK (North Korea),” the experts wrote in the 37-page report.

“Two member-states interdicted shipments destined for Syria. Another member-state informed the panel that it had reasons to believe that the goods were part of a KOMID contract with Syria,” according to the report.

KOMID is the Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation. It was blacklisted by the Security Council in 2009 and described as Pyongyang’s key arms dealer and exporter of equipment related to ballistic missiles and conventional weapons. In March 2016 the council also blacklisted two KOMID representatives in Syria.

Agencies