Trilateral Efforts Consolidating Syria Ceasefire

Trilateral Efforts Consolidating Syria Ceasefire
Trilateral Efforts Consolidating Syria Ceasefire

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow, Tehran and Ankara are continuing cooperation on consolidating a nationwide ceasefire in Syria, noting that the trio is working on joint mechanisms to punish those who attempt to violate the truce.

Lavrov made the remarks at a news conference following a meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers of Shanghai Cooperation Organization in the Kazakh capital Astana on Friday, Press TV reported.  Facilitated by Russia, Iran and Turkey, the ceasefire took effect between Syria's warring parties last December.

The three guarantor states have also mediated three rounds of peace talks between the Syrian government and opposition groups in Astana this year. The fourth round is scheduled for May 3 and 4.

"Russia is using the Astana process to strengthen the ceasefire regime," Lavrov said.

"Together with Turkey and Iran, we are developing joint mechanisms, which will not only register the violations of ceasefire agreements, but will also be able to respond to these violations, exert pressure on the violators."

The Astana talks helped kickstart a series of peace talks for Syria that were held under the auspices of the United Nations but had stalled for almost a year. A preparatory meeting of experts from Russia, Iran and Turkey was held in Tehran on April 18 and 19. Following the meeting, the Iranian Foreign Ministry said in a press release that experts had discussed draft documents, including those pertaining to the ceasefire regime and its implementation as well as those regarding the exchange of detainees and abductees.

The talks are aimed at bringing an end to the foreign-backed militancy in Syria, which began in March 2011. The Syrian Army has been conducting a major operation to rid the country of militant outfits. Iran and Russia are allied to the Syrian government, while Turkey supports armed anti-Damascus groups.

In his Friday remarks, Lavrov blasted Syria's main opposition bloc, the High Negotiations Committee, for insisting on the overthrow of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Lavrov called on those who influence and finance HNC to "review their policy of kowtowing to the opposition who persist in their destructive stand".


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