Iran, Russia, Turkey reaffirm commitment to Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity after talks in Astana – By SOTT

Iranian delegation to Syria

Picture taken in the Kazakh capital Astana on March 16, 2018 shows the Iranian delegation to Syria talks featuring Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (3rd L)

Iran, Russia and Turkey, guarantors of the Syria ceasefire, have reaffirmed their strong commitment to the Arab country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity after a tripartite foreign ministerial meeting in Astana, Kazakhstan.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his Russian and Turkish counterparts, Sergei Lavrov and Mevlut Cavusoglu, convened in the Kazakh capital to address the situation in Syria on Friday.

The city has been hosting talks aimed at finding a peaceful solution to the seven-year crisis in Syria.

The talks have featured the Syrian government and opposition’s representatives, with the three states serving as guarantors. Tehran and Moscow side with Damascus, while Turkey takes part on behalf of the Syrian opposition.

At a turning point last year, the negotiations led to establishment of four de-escalation zones across Syria.

In a joint statement issued after the meeting, Tehran, Moscow and Ankara “reaffirmed their strong and continued commitment to the sovereignty and independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic.”

They also expressed satisfaction with the “concrete contribution of the Astana process to improvement of the situation in Syria during the last year, calling for continued “coordinated efforts” to make sure the reduction in violence in Syria would be “irreversible.”

The guarantor states further “reiterated their conviction that there was no military solution to the Syrian conflict.”

They underlined the need for a political solution to the crisis “through an inclusive, free, fair, and transparent Syrian-led and Syrian-owned process leading to a constitution enjoying the support of the Syrian people, and free and fair elections with the participation of all eligible Syrians under appropriate UN supervision.”

The meeting is expected to lay ground for a summit involving the presidents of the three countries in Istanbul on April 4.

The ministers were slated to focus on the situation in Eastern Ghouta, in the Idlib de-escalation zone and setting up a constitutional commission, among other issues.

The situation in Eastern Ghouta was expected to take center stage at the talks. The Syrian army, backed by Russian air cover, is conducting an operation against the terrorists holed up in the Damascus suburb and, at the same time, evacuating civilians through humanitarian corridors.

Comment: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Astana process has proved its important and it helps in resolving the crisis in Syria.

In a welcoming speech before the talks with his Iranian and Turkish counterparts in the Kazakh Capital on Friday, Lavrov said that the progress achieved at Astana platform gives a positive impetus to the political settlement of the crisis in Syria.

Lavrov clarified that those who violate all norms of international law and the UN Security Council Resolution No.2254 obviously seek to schemes that threaten Syria’s unity and territorial integrity adding that whoever wants to do so will not agree to the Astana talks.

“I hope that the US-led coalition realizes the necessity of not fencing off terrorists, as it’s happening now in Eastern Ghouta, but will fight terrorist groups consistently and on principle,” Lavrov said.

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