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Foreign ministers of Iran, Russia discuss intra-Syrian peace talks

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (R) and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov

Foreign ministers of Iran and Russia have discussed the upcoming intra-Syrian peace talks which are scheduled to be held in the Kazakh capital of Astana.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov held a phone call on Monday at the request of Russia's top diplomat.

“The two top diplomats continued the discussion of the situation in and around Syria," the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

They called for further coordinated efforts by Tehran and Moscow ahead of the Syrian peace talks.

The top Iranian and Russian diplomats also conferred about issues concerning their respective countries.

The Astana negotiations will be held between representatives from the Damascus government and foreign-sponsored opposition groups in Astana on January 23.

The negotiations, which exclude the Daesh and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham Takfiri terrorist groups, will be mediated by Russia, Turkey, and Iran. The three countries successfully implemented a similar accord in December following the defeat of militants in Syria's northwestern city of Aleppo.

The Astana talks would be held in the wake of a nationwide ceasefire in Syria which was endorsed by the United Nations Security Council on December 31.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said on January 8 that he was "optimistic" about the upcoming peace negotiations in Astana, and expressed the government's readiness to negotiate with the armed opposition groups.

Iran and Russia support the elected Syrian government and have been assisting Damascus in its fight against terrorism. Russia began carrying out airstrikes on positions of Daesh and other terrorist groups in Syria at the official request of President Assad on September 30, 2015, while Iran has been providing military advisory assistance to the Arab country. This as Turkey is among the countries that have been supporting militant groups fighting the Syrian government forces. 

Syria has been fighting foreign-sponsored militancy over the past almost six years. UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura estimated in August last year that more than 400,000 people had been killed in the Syrian crisis until then. The UN has stopped its official casualty count in Syria, citing its inability to verify the figures it receives from various sources.

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