Head of the Syrian Arab Republic delegation to Astana meeting, Bashar al-Jaafari said the meeting will focus mainly on firmly establishing lines of the cessation of hostilities and separating the terrorist organizations of ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra from other armed groups that joined the cessation of hostilities.
He was speaking in statements to the reporters on board the plane that transported the delegation to Astana.
“There is a schedule and an agenda for the meeting with its major aim focused on a set of points, which are firmly establishing the lines of the cessation of hostilities, separating terrorist groups such as ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra from other groups that have agreed to the cessation of hostilities or those who agreed to go to [Astana] meeting and reaching common denominators regarding the fight against terrorism,” said al-Jaafari.
“This would be a test of the credibility and seriousness of the participants, whether those who will be sitting at the discussion table or their operators,” he added.
Al-Jaafari noted that the Syrian government regards every meeting “that serves the national interest” as important.
He said every stop has its special character and special agenda, and that it is the building on what every meeting presents is what “will lead us eventually to safety.”
Asked about what the expectations and hopes of Astana meeting are, al-Jaafari said “it is too early to set expectations, and we have received directions to make our participation in the meeting positive and to listen and to pass on our public and official view to the other participants.”
Commenting on the participation of the US in Astana meeting, being represented by its Ambassador in Kazakhstan, al-Jaafari said “For us in Syria, dialogue is going to be a Syrian-Syrian one per excellence whether in Astana, Geneva, Moscow or any other place.”
He went on saying that “We don’t take part in extending invitations to any of the parties in the first place, as this is done by the parties that are the guarantors of the meeting and have set its program.”
“We hope the U.S. action will be more positive and further involved in pushing things forward towards the political solution,” he added.
Asked about the Turkish role in Astana meeting, al-Jaafari said “For us and for our Russian and Iranian friends, neither the Turkish side nor any other side will be taking part in the meeting, as it is an intra-Syrian dialogue among Syrians without foreign interference or preconditions, except for the common denominators that we talked about and which are supposed to be on the agenda.”
“Turkey is a state that has been violating the Syrian sovereignty, providing assistance to the terrorist groups and impeding the peaceful solution. As for us, there is no Syrian-Turkish dialogue at the government level,” said al-Jaafari.
He pointed out that it was agreed with the Syrian government, amid accordant views, that Astana meeting will be a “technical” one to discuss the abovementioned points listed on it schedule “with the hope that it would be a point for shifting towards political work later.
He reiterated that the meeting will be an intra-Syrian dialogue, “and we don’t allow any foreign interference or preconditions,” referring however to the fact that many of the armed terrorist groups have foreign countries as their operators, including Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the US, Britain and France.
The Syrian Arab Republic delegation to Astana meeting includes, other than al-Jaafar, Advisor to the Foreign and Expatriates Minister Ahmad Arnous, Syria’s Ambassador in Moscow Riyad Haddad, Member of the People’s Assembly Ahmad Kezbari, in addition to Amjad Issa, Osama Ali, Haidar Ahmad, Gen. Salim Harba, Gen. Adnan Helwa and Col. Samer Breidi.