UN envoy heading to cease-fire talks in Kazakhstan this week

The U.N. special envoy for Syria is heading to Kazakhstan to join talks on the cease-fire in Syria.

A U.N. spokesman told reporters Monday that Staffan de Mistura will be in the capital of Astana as an observer at the talks Wednesday and Thursday convened by the three guarantors of the cease-fire — Russia, Turkey and Iran.

Spokesman Stephane Dujarric says de Mistura agreed to attend at the invitation of Kazakhstan's government "in view of the urgency and importance of re-establishing a de-escalation of the situation in Syria and moving on confidence-building measures."

Dujarric says de Mistura will hold talks with the three guarantors and others ahead of the next round of peace negotiations with the Syrian government and opposition in Geneva, which diplomats say are expected later this month.