Iranian and Syrian diplomatic delegations meet in Tehran on Dec. 31.
Iranian and Syrian diplomatic delegations meet in Tehran on Dec. 31.

Syrian Officials Arrive for High-Level Consultations

The main topics of discussions between Iran and Syria included cooperation in the fight against terrorism, efforts to protect a recent ceasefire and prepare the ground for intra-Syrian negotiations aimed at a political settlement

Syrian Officials Arrive for High-Level Consultations

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem and Ali Mamlouk, the head of Syria's National Security Bureau, arrived in Tehran on Saturday for high-level talks on the Syria crisis.
The conflict, which pits the Syrian Army against foreign-backed militants fighting to bring down the government, has become the worst calamity in the 21st century, leaving hundreds of thousands dead and triggering a major refugee crisis.
Iran provides Syrian troops with advisory services, while Russia is lending air power in the counter-terror push.
During his one-day trip, Muallem met Iran's top diplomat, Mohammad Javad Zarif, and discussed the latest developments in Syria, particularly a Russia-Turkey brokered ceasefire that took effect at midnight on Thursday.
Muallem was also to hold talks with President Hassan Rouhani.
The ceasefire agreement, the third serious attempt at a nationwide ceasefire this year, was announced by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday.
At a meeting with Russian defense and foreign ministers, Putin said opposition groups and the Syrian government had signed three documents, namely on cessation of hostilities, measures to monitor the truce and a statement of readiness to start peace talks.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said at the meeting that seven armed groups, which agreed to the deal, control most of central and northern Syria and possess the bulk of the opposition forces' manpower of more than 60,000 fighters.
The agreement does not include the fighters of the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Al-Nusra Front (recently rebranded as Jabhat Fateh al-Sham), or any factions linked to it.

  Meeting With Shamkhani
On Saturday, Muallem and Mamlouk were also scheduled to meet Secretary of Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani.
Fars News Agency reported that the main topics of conversation included bilateral cooperation in the fight against terrorism, efforts to protect the ceasefire and prepare the ground for intra-Syrian negotiations aimed at a political settlement and measures to prevent terrorist groups from regrouping after their defeat in Aleppo.
Talks on the enforced ceasefire picked up momentum when Russia, Iran and Turkey said after a December 20 meeting among their foreign ministers that they were ready to back a peace deal and adopted a declaration setting out principles for an agreement.
The trilateral talks came after Russia and Turkey successfully brokered a deal on the evacuation of encircled militants from a small pocket in eastern Aleppo, handing the Syrian government its biggest victory since the start of the conflict.
AFP reported that the truce remained largely intact on its second day, Saturday, despite sporadic clashes.
The ceasefire agreement, if it holds for a month, would mark a potential breakthrough by allowing the start of negotiations between the government and opposition in Kazakhstan's capital, Astana.
On Saturday, the United Nations Security Council was to hold a vote on a Russian-drafted resolution on the implementation of the ceasefire.

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