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Iran: No preconditions for attending Astana Syria talks

January 3, 2017 at 12:38 am

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Bahram Qassemi said on Monday that Iran will attend the upcoming Syrian crisis resolution talks in the Kazakh capital of Astana “without any preconditions”, Iran’s Press TV agency reported.

Qassemi made his remarks on Monday, addressing reporters at his biweekly press conference at the foreign ministry premises, where he underlined that Turkey, Russia and Iran are the only countries expected to take part in a scheduled meeting in Kazakhstan later this month which aims at resolving more than five years of deadly violence in Syria.

He further noted that it is not yet clear when the Astana talks will take place.

The Iranian official added that the potential participation of other countries in the planned talks is not under discussion in the meantime. This came in the wake of an announcement last Friday by the Egyptian foreign ministry claiming that Egypt is currently considering taking part in the resolution of the Syrian crisis and that it will announce its position on the matter “soon”.

During the conference, asked if Iran had set any preconditions on its attendance of the meeting — set for mid-January in Kazakh capital Astana — ministry spokesman said: “Dictating views is out of the question… We do not have any special conditions”.

On a recent Reuters report, which was published on 28 December, claiming that Turkey, Iran and Russia were mulling the possibility of dividing post-war Syria into “zones of influence”, Qassemi described the report as “worthless and false”.

On the same note, the ministry spokesperson emphasised that the Astana talks will be purely intra-Syrian, and that the Islamic Republic will not seek to impose its own will on any side during the planned negotiations.

Iran’s position versus all regional countries is clear. We always have and always will defend Syria’s territorial integrity and national sovereignty… We will not allow Syria to turn into a place, where other countries, the least of which Iran, can exert their influence … Changing borders and violating the national sovereignty of countries is wrong

He also pointed to a recent visit by Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem to Tehran, saying Iran will keep up “constant consultations” with Damascus and other partners on the situation in Syria, according to Press TV.

Following last week’s Syria ceasefire deal brokered by Turkey and Russia, the Astana meeting comes as part of ongoing efforts by the two countries to promote a political process in war-torn Syria.

Syria has been locked in a devastating civil war since early 2011, when the Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests – which erupted as part of the “Arab Spring” uprisings – with unexpected ferocity.

As a result of the conflict, more than a quarter of a million people have been killed and more than 10 million displaced since then, according to UN figures.