Jaafari calls Astana meeting ‘a success’ despite ‘painful experience’

TEHRAN, Jan. 24 (MNA) – The delegations of Iran, Russia and Turkey support the start of negotiations between the government of Syria and armed opposition in Astana, January 23-24, 2017, said a statement read by Kazakh Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov on Tuesday.

Moscow, Tehran and Ankara agreed that the Syrian crisis can be only resolved via a political process and that there can be no military solution.

The sides also agreed to a joint fight against militants from Islamic State, which alongside Al-Nusra Front has not been included in the negotiations. The trio also suggested separating the terrorists from Syrian armed opposition groups. They also welcomed the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2254 on the Syrian crisis, which was adopted in December 2015.

The countries said that they support the willingness of the armed opposition groups to take part in the next round of talks, which are scheduled for February 8 in Geneva.

Syrian Ambassador to the UN Bashar Jaafari told reporters it was extremely painful for the Damascus delegation to sit in the same room as Syrians linked to other agendas. He added that it was not the first time they had sat together, and that they had to do it for the sake of the Syrian people.

Jaafari called the negotiations “a success” and expressed support for the joint statement earlier issued by Moscow, Tehran and Ankara. "Finally we have a consensual paper [the joint statement] agreed upon by everybody," he said.

Mohammed Alloush, leader of the Jaysh al-Islam alliance, who is heading the delegation of the Syrian armed opposition at the Astana talks, said the rebels support a political solution based on UN auspices, while demanding the resignation of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Alloush added that the Syrian opposition will not engage in any talks with Iran and will not accept any statement by Tehran on Syria’s future.He said that he had given a proposal to Russia on the ceasefire, and expects an answer within a week.

Peace talks on Syria kicked off in Astana on Monday with frosty exchanges between the principal negotiators – the Syrian government’s UN envoy, Bashar Jaafari, and a delegation from the rebels headed by Mohammed Alloush of the Jaysh al-Islam militant group.

The two-day event was held at the Rixos hotel in Astana, with the hosting Kazakh government providing additional security. 

The talks were given the green light after three countries – Russia, Turkey, and Iran – brokered a partial ceasefire between the Syrian government and some opposition groups last month, which managed to significantly reduce hostilities in Syria. Both the government and rebels regularly complain of violations, however.

The ceasefire does not include terrorist groups such as Al Nusra Front or Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), which is currently engaged in a massive offensive against government forces in the Deir ez-Zor province.

Neither Al-Nusra nor ISIL was invited to the conference. The Kurdish YPG militia, which was not invited to the negotiations either, said on Monday that it will “not be bound” by any decisions taken in Astana.

RT/MNA

News Code 122996

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