Zarif Outlines Moscow Declaration on Syria

Zarif Outlines Moscow Declaration on SyriaZarif Outlines Moscow Declaration on Syria

Iran's foreign minister explained in general a trilateral Iran-Russia-Turkey statement on the nearly six-year-long conflict in Syria, aimed at stopping the calamity that has killed hundreds of thousands and triggered a major refugee crisis.

The Moscow Declaration, which sets out the principles for solving the crisis, was adopted in a meeting between Mohammed Javad Zarif, and his Russian and Turkish counterparts, Sergey Lavrov and Mevlut Cavusoglu, in Moscow on Tuesday.

A parallel meeting was also held among the defense ministers of Iran, Russia and Turkey, Hossein Dehqan, Sergei Shoygu and Fikri Isik, respectively, IRNA reported.

Iran and Russia are backing the Syrian Army in its combat against militants and terrorists trying to bring down the democratically-elected government, while Turkey supported some opposition groups.

However, Turkey has realized the terrorist agenda of those groups and recently joined hands with Iran and Russia to respect the national sovereignty of Syria.

Speaking to reporters in Tehran on Wednesday, Zarif said the main points of the statement include achieving a nationwide ceasefire, stimulating an inclusive political process to settle the crisis and providing humanitarian aid to "all" Syrian people.

Lavrov said in a joint press conference after the meeting that "the ministers agree with the importance of widening the ceasefire [and] free access for humanitarian aid and movement of civilians on Syrian territory".

"Russia, Iran and Turkey confirm their determination to cooperate in combating the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra [recently rebranded Jabhat Fateh al-Sham] as well as in distinguishing opposition groups from terrorists," Lavrov said.

"The document confirms respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity ... and [calls for] preventing disintegration of Syria, which is very important as some arrogant powers are following [opposite] policies," IRNA quoted him as saying.

***Need for Political Settlement  

Zarif said the statement says any Syrian settlement should be political, "which is also important as some regional states have been pursuing military ones".

"We repeatedly tried to get this adopted in the statements of the International Syria Support Group, but unfortunately Saudi Arabia was opposed."

ISSG is another framework for promoting Syria peace talks that includes 20 members, including the US.

According to Lavrov, in the declaration, "Iran, Russia and Turkey express the readiness to promote the drafting of the agreement the Syrian government and the opposition are negotiating at the moment and to act as its guarantors".

Some Syrian opposition groups and representatives of the Syrian government are to hold peace talks in the Kazakh capital Astana in the near future. These talks will be pursued alongside intermittent UN-brokered talks in Geneva.

Zarif said providing humanitarian aid to all parts of Syria was also stressed in the statement.

"Unfortunately, the western states are only focusing on areas where terrorists are under pressure and only seek to rescue armed groups," he said.

"This is while civilians in areas like Foua and Kefraya have been besieged for more than two years and food and drug can only be sent to them by planes, but [westerners] do not pay any attention to them."

Foua and Kefraya are Shia-majority towns in northwest Syria near militant-held Idlib Province, in which thousands of trapped people have been routinely attacked by al-Nusra since March 2015.

"Overall, yesterday's meeting was an important one and we hope we would be able to implement [the statement]," Zarif concluded.

"We [Iran, Russia and Turkey] have invited all other countries with influence over the situation on the ground to do the same [to help get a deal on Syria]," Lavrov quoted the statement as saying.

The United States, which was left out of the talks, announced on Tuesday it "loves" to see the settlement of the Syrian crisis.

"If this troika arrangement can lead to those outcomes, that's all to the better. If it can lead to those outcomes today or tomorrow that would be terrific and we would love to see that," US Department of State Spokesman John Kirby said in a press briefing.


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