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Coop. With Syria Meant to Restore Democracy

The goal of Iran and its allies is to restore peace and stability to Syria, so its people can freely decide the future of their country
President Hassan Rouhani (R) meets Syrian Prime Minister Imad Khamis and his accompanying delegation in Tehran on Jan. 18. President Hassan Rouhani (R) meets Syrian Prime Minister Imad Khamis and his accompanying delegation in Tehran on Jan. 18.

President Hassan Rouhani said the cooperation between Iran and its allies on Syria is aimed at restoring democracy to the conflict-ravaged Arab country and its people.

"The goal of all of our friends is to restore peace and stability to Syria, so its people can freely decide the future of their country," Rouhani said in a meeting with visiting Syrian Prime Minister Imad Khamis on Wednesday, IRNA reported.

His remarks came ahead of the Syria talks in the Kazakh capital next week sponsored by Russia, Iran and Turkey, which began cooperating last month to help broker a peace deal.

The three have emerged as important players in Syria, with Iran and Russia strongly backing President Bashar al-Assad, while Turkey, a NATO member, initially assisted groups seeking his ouster. The trilateral initiative was undertaken days after Assad and his supporters won a major victory by capturing eastern Aleppo.

Rouhani underscored the liberation of Aleppo and the establishment of a ceasefire in the six-year-old war as two important steps toward peace and hoped that the Astana discussions would pave the way for "real Syrian-Syrian negotiations".

Khamis pointed to Iran's role in retaking Aleppo, saying, "The Aleppo victory was in fact the result of persistence and determined resistance and sacrifices by the Syrian Army and unwavering support of the Islamic Republic of Iran and its Leader."

The Astana talks would be distinct from separate, intermittent UN-brokered negotiations in Geneva, which broke down a few months ago because of a surge in violence.  

Although the US was not supposed to be a player in the new round of diplomacy on Syria, Russia seems to have shifted gear, as its top diplomat announced on Tuesday it is right to invite the new US administration to the Astana talks.

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