Qatar 'invited' to Syria peace talks in Astana

Qatar 'invited' to Syria peace talks in Astana
Qatar has been invited to take part in Syrian peace talks in the Kazakh capital Astana next week, a Qatari official has been quoted as saying.
2 min read
20 January, 2017
The peace talks come after the regime scored a symbolic victory by retaking Aleppo [AFP]
Qatar says it has been invited to take part in Syrian peace talks due to be held in the Kazakh capital Astana next week.

Reuters news agency quoted a Qatari Foreign Ministry official, who declined to be named, as saying that his country had received an official invitation to join the talks brokered by Russia, Turkey and Iran.

Qatar has backed Syrian rebels attempting to overthrow the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

The gas-rich nation has worked alongside Saudi Arabia, Turkey and a number of Western nations to train and arm rebel groups through a programme overseen by the US Central Intelligence Agency.

Syria's deputy foreign minister on Wednesday appeared to reject the participation of Saudi Arabia and Qatar in the peace talks saying their attendance would be discussed once they stop backing the rebels, who Damascus refers to as “terrorists”.

Next week's talks, which aim to bring together representatives of the Syrian government and rebel groups, mark the first time since the conflict began in 2011 that the US has not been at the centre of peace negotiations.

The talks come in the wake of the Syrian regime’s symbolic victory last month in retaking Aleppo, Syria's second city and a key rebel stronghold through much of the war.

Iran and Russia have been the key diplomatic and military backers of the Syrian government in the war, while Turkey has supported rebel groups.

The three countries are still discussing which officials will travel to Astana.