The Trump administration has decided against sending a U.S. delegation to Kazakhstan for talks on the war in Syria, despite receiving a formal invitation from the Kazakh government with the backing of Russia and Turkey, the State Department said Saturday.
Instead, the U.S. will be represented in Astana only by its ambassador to Kazakhstan.
“The United States is committed to a political resolution to the Syrian crisis through a Syrian-owned process, which can bring about a more representative, peaceful, and united Syria,” the State Department said in a statement. “Given our presidential inauguration and the immediate demands of the transition, a delegation from Washington will not be attending the Astana conference.”
Russia has seized on the election of Donald Trump to call for greater cooperation between Moscow and Washington to end the Syrian civil war. The Kremlin purposefully excluded former Secretary of State John Kerry from Syria negotiations sponsored by Moscow and Ankara and held at the end of last year. The two countries have sought to take the lead on diplomatic efforts, eclipsing the administration of former President Barack Obama.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and other senior officials, however, have voiced hope that Mr. Trump will be more cooperative in Syria.