UN Envoy Briefs Iran on Syrian Developments

UN Envoy Briefs Iran on Syrian DevelopmentsUN Envoy Briefs Iran on Syrian Developments

Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Jaberi Ansari met UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura on Sunday to discuss the latest developments in the war-torn Arab country.

De Mistura, who arrived in Tehran earlier in the day, was also scheduled to hold talks with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

The UN envoy said last week he aimed to convene a new round of peace talks toward the end of August, quietly scrapping a previous August 1 target date to reach agreement on a framework for a political transition.

"Our aim, let me say very clearly, is to proceed with a third round of intra-Syrian talks toward the end of August," he said.

Countries involved in the Syria peace talks, known as the International Syria Support Group, agreed in a November meeting on a roadmap outlining a peace process that envisaged a ceasefire, talks between the Syrian government and opposition and a roughly two-year timeline to establish a unity government and hold elections.

Iran, along with Russia, has been a principal ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in his country's five-year-old war, while Persian Gulf Arab states, Turkey and western powers have supported various militant factions seeking to dislodge him.

A "cessation of hostilities" brokered in February by the United States and Russia, which represent Assad's supporters and opponents respectively, has been strained to breaking point by frequent violations, which each side blames on the other.

It does not include designated terrorists, including the self-styled Islamic State and Al-Qaeda-linked terrorist groups.

The United States said last Tuesday it hoped to announce in early August details of planned military cooperation and intelligence sharing with Russia on Syria.

De Mistura said he strongly hoped US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, would make concrete and visible progress because that would improve the situation on the ground for the peace talks, although such progress was not a precondition for talks.