World Bulletin / News Desk
The Russian delegation arrived in Ankara Tuesday to discuss details of the talks in the Kazakh capital Astana before returning to Moscow, said Turkish officials who are working with Russia and the Syrian opposition on the talks, and who asked not to be named, due to restrictions on talking to the media.
The officials added that preparations for the Astana talks were accelerated following a fall in the number of cease-fire violations by regime forces in Syria.
In the meeting with Russian officials, the message was that Turkey is continuing to work with the opposition to make the Astana meeting as productive as possible, but cease-fire violations by the Syrian regime have made this difficult, the Turkish officials said.
The officials also said cease-fire violations by Iranian-backed groups have drawn an opposition backlash.
It is still unclear whether the regime representatives at the meeting in Astana and the opposition will take part in the negotiations directly.
If the negotiations are indirect, Turkey and Russia may stand in for United Nations mediation.
While the U.S. and Iran are expected to take part in the talks, Turkey believes that a large number of participating countries would "dilute" the process, the officials added.
Negotiations to reach a political resolution to the six-year war in Syria are due to begin in Astana between the Syrian government and opposition on Jan. 23.
Following last month's Syria cease-fire deal brokered by Turkey and Russia, the Astana meeting comes as part of ongoing efforts by the two countries to promote a political solution in war-torn Syria.