Russian-backed peace talks that were to be held in Astana, Kazakhstan, have been further delayed because key players cannot agree on the future of Syria's safe zones, Kazakhstan's foreign ministry announced today.
The talks, which were scheduled to be held on 12-13 June, were due to include discussions on implementing four "de-escalation zones" or safe zones that were agreed upon in May by key regional players; Russia, Turkey and Iran. A Russian diplomat said talks may resume on 20 June.
This is not the first time the peace talks have been delayed due to internal conflict between key Syrian players. Previously, Syria's opposition has taken various stands against the talks such as suspending participation and even rejecting the safe zones altogether, on the grounds that they do not accept the division of Syria and want to "maintain its integrity".
Russia has led the peace talks in Astana since the start of the year in an attempt to shift from a military role in supporting the Assad government into a more negotiation-based role to sort out a settlement to the Syrian conflict.
After the agreement on establishing de-escalation zones during the last round of peace talks, there was a notable decrease in fighting on the ground, yet there remain many issues to be discussed.