Still waiting for peace: Fresh Syria talks set for July in Astana
"According to the latest information, the meeting on Syria in Astana is currently set for July 4 and 5," the Russian foreign ministry said Monday evening, Ria Novosti reported.
Earlier the Kazakh foreign ministry had issued a statement announcing the dates and saying "the participants plan to discuss the situation in Syria, the process of abiding by agreements reached during previous rounds of talks in Astana, including the creation of de-escalation zones in Syria."
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters in Beijing that the UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura, who announced the date for the Geneva round on Saturday, would take part in the Russian-backed talks.
A new round of Astana talks had been scheduled for June but was indefinitely postponed as key players wrangled over the future of fragile safe zones agreed for Syria in May.
Russia and Iran, which back dictator Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces in the war, and Turkey, a supporter of rebel forces, signed an agreement on May 4 on setting up four safe zones.
Lavrov on Monday said these zones "are one of the possible options to move forward together".
Moscow has spearheaded the Astana talks since the start of the year as it tries to turn its game-changing military intervention on the ground into a negotiated settlement.
The tense negotiations, seen as a complement to the broader UN-backed talks in Geneva, have involved armed rebels and Syrian government officials and have focused mainly on military issues.
The last Geneva talks ended on May 19 after four days without making any real progress.
The Syrian conflict began when the Baath regime, in power since 1963 and led by President Bashar al-Assad, responded with military force to peaceful protests demanding democratic reforms during the Arab Spring wave of uprisings, triggering an armed rebellion fuelled by mass defections from the Syrian army.
According to independent monitors, hundreds of thousands of civilians have been killed in the war, mostly by the regime and its powerful allies, and millions have been displaced both inside and outside of Syria.
The brutal tactics pursued mainly by the regime, which have included the use of chemical weapons, sieges, mass executions and torture against civilians have led to war crimes investigations.