By Mina Ahmadi

Syria peace talks in Astana

News ID: 3904188 -
TEHRAN, Feb. 11 (MNA) – The negotiations between Syrian government and the opposition groups started with the attendance of 7 delegations including Iran, Russia and Turkey on Jan. 23 in Astana.

The two-day event which aimed at reinforcing and sustaining the truce which has been established in Syria since December 30 and to find political solutions for the crisis in this war-stricken country.

Attended by the Iranian, Russian and Turkish delegations, Astana gathering has been planned to remove obstacles hindering the way of resuming Syrian peace talks in Geneva which has been halted by sabotage of armed Syrian opposition groups.

Immediate action

Addressing the Astana meeting, Iranian Deputy FM Jaberi Ansari presented an image of the ongoing crisis in Syria and urged immediate action on bringing stability to the hard-hit country.

"As we are sitting here in comfort, men, women and children in Syria are struggling with difficulties, agony and ravages of war, terrorism and displacement within or out of their homeland," he added.

Jaberi Ansari underscored that in the human world, the divergence of beliefs and interests are natural, but war is the ugliest manifestation of such disagreement. The utmost goal of our joint efforts to end the Syrian conflict must be an irreversible cessation of hostilities that enables the people of Syria to get back to the normal life they deserve, like any other nation. Syrians shall enjoy a sovereign state in an integrated territory within safe borders.

"All nations shall enjoy the inherent right of self-determination and no external powers should or can interfere with the right of people. Syrian nation is no exception and shall exercise this right of theirs, free from any external pressure. Those who seek the prolongation of the Syrian crisis for their own interests hinder the fulfillment of people’s right," he said.

Credibility test

Head of the Syrian Arab Republic delegation to Astana meeting, Bashar al-Jaafari said the meeting focus was mainly on firmly establishing lines of ceasefire; “there is a schedule and an agenda for the meeting with its major aim focused on a set of points, which are firmly establishing the lines of the cessation of hostilities, separating terrorist groups such as ISIL and Jabhat al-Nusra from other groups that have agreed to the cessation of hostilities or those who agreed to go to [Astana] meeting and reaching common denominators regarding the fight against terrorism,” said al-Jaafari.

“This would be a test of the credibility and seriousness of the participants, whether those who will be sitting at the discussion table or their operators,” he added.

Al-Jaafari noted that the Syrian government regards every meeting “that serves the national interest” as important.

He said every stop has its special character and special agenda, and that it is the building on what every meeting presents is what “will lead us eventually to safety.”

“Turkey is a state that has been violating the Syrian sovereignty, providing assistance to the terrorist groups and impeding the peaceful solution. As for us, there is no Syrian-Turkish dialogue at the government level,” said al-Jaafari.

He pointed out that it was agreed with the Syrian government, amid accordant views, that Astana meeting is a “technical” one to discuss the abovementioned points listed on it schedule “with the hope that it would be a point for shifting towards political work later.

He reiterated that the meeting is an intra-Syrian dialogue, “and we don’t allow any foreign interference or preconditions,” referring however to the fact that many of the armed terrorist groups have foreign countries as their operators, including Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the U.S., Britain and France.

Complicated process

Commenting on Syria peace talks, President Hassan Rouhani has recently stressed that the Astana meeting should be regarded as a prelude to final settlement of the ongoing crisis in the country, adding that the crisis in Syria has turned into a complicated process.

Welcoming ceasefire in Syria, the president noted the efforts have to be focused on protecting the ceasefire.

He said today's ceasefire has been agreed upon between the Syrian government and a number of opposition groups, except Daesh and al-Nusra Front.

On the future of the Syrian government, the president said it is only the Syrian nation that should decide its fate.

The president underlined that the Syrian problem should be solved through diplomatic channels and negotiations.

No one is allowed to decide for the Syrian nation, the president said, adding, 'we have to pave the way for peace and security and free elections' in that country.

No military solution

Iranian officials have always announced that there is no military solution to Syrian crisis.

Recently Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif announced that “Syrian crisis has no military solution; rather, we should reach a solution based on which Syrian people can hold talks with each other.”

"Over the past three and half years, Iran has repeatedly emphasized that we should not predict the outcome of the talks and judge on that basis," Zarif said.

He added, “this is our strategy of talks in the Astana session in Kazakhstan and Russia, Iran and Turkey are striving within the same framework; we hope that all the parties to the ceasefire in Syria will come for talks in Astana and end violence in the country.”

The minister also referred to the UN efforts to solve Syria crisis and said, “the Astana session is not in contradiction with or a substitute for efforts of other international institutions aiming to solve the Syrian crisis. All parties should try to prepare the ground for a successful future for Syria.”

He added, “terrorism, extremism and violence threaten all of us and we should confront it collectively.”

Trilateral meeting in Moscow

On Jan 14, deputy foreign ministers of Iran, Russia and Turkey held a trilateral meeting in Moscow discussing the arrangements for the upcoming Astana meeting on Syrian situation.

The trilateral meeting was attended by Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab-African Affairs Hossein Jaberi Ansari, his Russian counterpart Mikhail Bogdanov and Turkish counterpart Ahmet Unal Cevikoz.

The three deputy foreign ministers agreed to continue their talks for a successful holding of Astana meeting and helping with putting an end to the Syrian crisis.

The meeting which comes in the wake of the liberation of Aleppo, aimed at strengthening the political process and coordinating efforts for combating terrorism and establishing stability and peace in Syria.

The organizers of the meeting, hope for Astana talks to pave the way for peace and to present political solution for Syria crisis.

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