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UN envoy welcomes preparations for Syria talks in Astana

Associated Press logo Associated Press 5/01/2017

GENEVA — The U.N. envoy for Syria is welcoming preparations for a multilateral meeting led by Turkey and Russia that aims to help end Syria's civil war and could undergird new U.N.-mediated talks between the warring sides.

Staffan de Mistura acknowledged violent "incidents" in Syria since the start last week of a Russia- and Turkey-mediated cease-fire but added that he believes the powers "will succeed in overcoming them."

The U.N. envoy spoke to reporters in Geneva on Thursday. De Mistura hopes to convene intra-Syrian talks in Geneva next month.

Meanwhile, the multilateral meeting, planned for later this month in Kazakhstan's capital, Astana, highlights how the United States has been largely sidelined from Syria peace efforts, though it's welcome to attend.

Nearly a dozen Syrian rebel groups have suspended talks about the negotiations.

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