Syrian peace talks begin in Kazakhstan under Russian-Turkish sponsors

The conference, which opened in the Kazakh capital of Astana Monday, brings together the Syrian government officials and armed rebel groups for the first time since the last peace talks broke down in 2016. The sponsors, Russia and Turkey, have backed opposing sides in the Syrian conflict. Strengthening the ceasefire which has mostly held since last month is high on the agenda. It excludes ISIS and the jihadist Al Nusra.

Iran has objected to Moscow's invitation to the Trump administration to send a representative. However, it was decided at the White House that the US ambassador to Astana would sit in as an observer.

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