According to the US State Department, the Trump Administration will not be sending a formal delegation to participate in the Syrian peace talks in Astana, Kazakhstan. Officials say they could not do so because of the “immediate demands of the transition” since Trump’s Friday inauguration.
The Obama Administration was pointedly not invited to the talks, organized by Turkey and Russia, and instead of extending an invitation to the US government in general, they made it clear the invitation was for the Trump Administration in particular, seen as a last minute diplomatic slight to Obama.
The US will not be totally absent from the talks, however, as US Ambassador to Kazakhstan George Krol, who was already in Astana anyway, will be attending the talks as the representative of the United States. The absence of a real delegation however, likely will limit US participation in the talks greatly.
President Trump is expected to significantly change US policy in Syria, with reports that he will scrap a long-standing program of arms smuggling by the CIA to rebel factions and instead focus exclusively on fighting ISIS. As ISIS is not a participant in the Astana talks, or really expected to be a serious topic of discussion, the administration’s absence may also reflect comparative disinterest about what the rebels and the Syrian government decide in the talks.