Zarif Joins Syria Peace Talks

Zarif Joins Syria Peace Talks   Zarif Joins Syria Peace Talks

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif flew to the Swiss city of Lausanne on Saturday to join top diplomats from the US, Russia and regional powers for a new round of talks on achieving political settlement of the over five-year-old Syrian conflict.

The new diplomatic push comes three weeks after the US announced it had broken off contact with Russia over Syria due to renewed efforts by the Syrian Army, backed by Russian airstrikes, to retake from foreign-backed terrorists in the eastern neighborhoods of Aleppo, the second biggest Syrian city that has a strategic importance.  

Last month, the US and Russia brokered an extendable one-week ceasefire, but it expired on September 19.

The Syrian government refused to extend the truce, which in the first place was opposed by some militant groups, because of continued violations of the ceasefire and a US-led airstrike against its positions in Deir al-Zor that left over 80 soldiers dead and many others injured.

Moscow later accused the US of not honoring its obligation to separate Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (formerly Al-Qaeda-affiliated Al Nusra Front) from "moderate rebels" that enjoy its support mostly in the form of arms supply.

Washington said the Russian air force and the Syrian Army are to blame for the collapse of the deal.

IRNA reported on Saturday that Zarif held a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Tasnim News Agency had quoted an informed source as saying on Friday that Zarif was not to attend the meeting. However, it later reported the same source as saying on Saturday that Iran accepted an invitation to participate in the meeting after parties to the meeting agreed to conditions set by Tehran for its involvement. In recent days, the Iranian foreign minister held two telephone conversations with Lavrov and another with EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini.

Also taking part in the conference were Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which along with the US, are the main backers of militants struggling to overthrow the government.

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