U.N. envoy says Syria safe zones plan a step in right direction

Slideshow ( 4 images )

ASTANA (Reuters) - U.N. Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura hailed on Thursday a plan for creating safe zones in Syria as a step in the right direction toward a real cessation of hostilities.

After a new round of Syria peace talks held in the Kazakh capital Astana, Russia, Turkey and Iran signed on Thursday a memorandum on creating safe zones in Syria. But the delegation of the armed Syrian opposition walked out and shouted angrily.

“Today in Astana I think we have been able to witness an important promising positive step in the right direction in the process of de-escalation of the conflict,” de Mistura told reporters.

Russia’s lead negotiator on Syria Alexander Lavrentyev said that Moscow was ready to work more closely with the United States and Saudi Arabia on Syria.

“Unfortunately, the Americans are still ignoring our attempts to establish closer military cooperation but we will keep trying,” he said. He also said that Moscow was ready to send its observers to Syria’s free zones.

Reporting by Olzhas Auyezov; Writing by Dmitry Solovyov; editing by Vladimir Soldatkin