Iran, Russia to remain in Syria as long as Damascus wishes: Zarif

TEHRAN, Oct. 30 (MNA) – Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that Iran and Russia’s presence in Syria is upon the official invitation of Damascus and the presence will continue as long as Syrian people and government want so.

He made the remarks on Tuesday night in a joint press conference with his Russian and Turkish counterparts in Geneva.

The foreign ministers of Russia, Turkey and Iran Sergey Lavrov, Mevlut Cavusoglu and Mohammad Javad Zarif held talks in the Astana format in Geneva on Tuesday, also releasing a joint statement. They discussed the situation in Syria and the launch of the Syrian Constitutional Committee which will hold its first session on October 30.

Zarif, in the press conference, went on to refer to the presence of US troops in Syria with the pretext of protecting oil fields, hinting that President Trump is at least honest about US aims.

"The launch of the Constitutional Committee will happen tomorrow, and it will be a start of the long and difficult process of political settlement in Syria," Tass quoted Zarif as saying.

 He added that "it is important that this process is acceptable for Syrian people and will represent the result of their efforts and work, as it should look like it was imposed from outside."

"The process of political resolution of the Syrian crisis became possible thanks to guarantors in the Astana process [Russia, Iran, Turkey] and efforts by UN Special Envoy for Syria [Geir Pedersen]," he noted.

Zarif noted the importance of the fact that "all three states insist on maintaining Syria's territorial integrity." "Iran is confident that Syria's territory should be controlled by the Syrian forces and government, which will bear responsibility for ensuring security in the country and along borders," he stressed.

"The international community should support political settlement of the Syrian conflict. There is no military solution to the Syrian crisis," Zarif said.

However, it is important "not to over-estimate the significance of the Constitutional Committee whose task is to improve the constitution," he noted. "There are other issues, including the humanitarian problem, the issue of prisoners and refugees, who should successfully return to their homes," he concluded.

The Syrian Constitutional Committee was formed in accordance with the resolution adopted in January 2018 by the Congress of Syrian National Dialogue in Sochi. The Committee will include 150 people (50 delegates each from the government, opposition and civil society organizations). Each group will appoint 15 experts to participate in sessions of the "draft commission" which will be held behind closed doors in Geneva. The first session of the Syrian Constitutional Committee will be held on October 30.

MNA/TASS/IRN 83534616

News Code 151717

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