The State Department says the American ambassador to Kazakhstan will represent the United States at international talks on Syria set for Monday in the Kazakh capital.

The talks are being sponsored by Russia and Turkey. The invitation for the U.S. to be an observer came from Russia's ambassador in Washington in a telephone call with Michael Flynn, the new White House national security adviser.

That call took place on Dec. 29 — the same day the Obama administration levied sanctions on Russia in relation for election-related hacking in the 2016 White House campaign.

The talks are seen as a prelude to a new round of U.N.-led negotiations in Geneva next month between the Syrian government and the opposition.

Syrians walk through the destruction in the old city of Aleppo, Syria, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017. Thousands of people have returned to their homes in east Aleppo that was held by rebels for more than four years until government forces took full control of it last month. East Aleppo has suffered wide destruction because of airstrikes and shelling.

Photo Credit: Hassan Ammar/AP

The U.S. envoy in Kazakhstan is George Krol, a career foreign service officer.

The State Department's acting spokesman, Mark Toner, says a U.S. delegation isn't attending because of the presidential inauguration and the "immediate demands" of the transition between the Obama and Trump administrations.

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