A third round of consultations aimed at finding a political solution to the conflict in Syria has entered its second day in Kazakhstan's capital Astana.
The talks gather the Syrian government and opposition at the negotiating table, with Iran, Russia, and Turkey acting as mediators. Tehran and Moscow are allies with Damascus, while Turkey mediates on behalf of the Syrian armed opposition.
Astana hosted two rounds of the negotiations respectively in January and February. The third bout started on Tuesday and is to carry on through Wednesday.
The first day started with a meeting between the UN and Russian delegations, and continued with more consultations among the representative teams.
The second day is expected to witness a general meeting, with all the participants in attendance.
The militants had earlier boycotted this round of talks, claiming they had to first make sure about Damascus and its allies’ adherence to the ceasefire.
On Wednesday, however, Kazakhstan’s Foreign Ministry said the militants' delegation would come to Astana to attend the talks at night.
The Russian news agency Interfax cited a representative with the Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) as saying that the militant group will be sending five officers to the negotiations.
Meanwhile, Osama Abu Zeid, an FSA delegate to the Astana talks, announced his resignation on Wednesday, citing "personal reasons.”
The talks are hoped to positively contribute to a similar process in Geneva brokered by the UN. The Swiss city has so far hosted four rounds of discussions, with the next scheduled for March 23.
Addressing the attendees, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev said the Astana talks will create conditions for the resolution of the Syrian crisis within the framework of the Geneva process, Russia’s Sputnik network reported.
"I am confident that the meeting in Astana will provide the necessary conditions allowing to find the acceptable solution of Syrian crisis for all the interested parties in the framework of Geneva process under the auspices of the UN and will be a significant step forward to peace and stability in Syria. I wish you successful and fruitful negotiations,” the statement read out by the Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov said.