Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Intensive negotiations ahead of Russia-led Syria talks

Delegates from Russia, Turkey and Iran held hours-long talks in Kazakhstan Sunday on the eve of negotiations between Syrian rebels and President Bashar Assad's government, trying to forge common ground that would nudge forward a political settlement for the country's civil war.

The talks between the two warring sides are the first in a year, and are meant as a first step to consolidate a cease-fire reached last month.

Whether Russia and Turkey will manage to bolster the cease-fire they brokered on Dec. 30 will be a key measure of success for the Astana meetings, Syrian opposition spokesman Yahya al-Aridi told reporters in the Kazakh capital Sunday.

The opposition...