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UN counts on support of Iran, Russia, Turkey for Syria peace process: Envoy

Iranian delegates (R) attend a round of talks on Syria within the Astana format, in the Kazakh capital, Nur Sultan, July 7, 2021.

United Nations special envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen has praised the role being played by Iran, Russia and Turkey in efforts to resolve the Syria crisis, saying he counts on the trio’s continued support for the world body’s political process to achieve that goal.

The 16th round of talks on Syria started in Kazakhstan’s capital Nur-Sultan on Wednesday with the participation of Iran, Russia, and Turkey — the three guarantor states in the Syrian peace process — as well as representatives from the Syrian government and opposition groups besides the UN envoy.

In a tweet on Wednesday, Pedersen hailed engagement with interlocutors from Russia, Turkey and Iran and said he counts on the trio’s continued support for the UN political process.

On the first day of the Syria meeting, the Iranian foreign minister’s senior assistant on special political affairs, Ali Asghar Khaji, held talks with representatives of Syria, Russia and Turkey as well as the UN envoy.

The participants discussed a range of topics, including efforts to promote political stability in Syria, the recent presidential election in the country, holding the sixth session of the Syrian Constitutional Committee in Geneva, issues pertaining to border crossings and the US sanctions against Damascus.

The Iranian delegation outlined the country’s stance on the need to fight terrorism, dispatch humanitarian aid to Syria and secure a removal of the US sanctions.

In a meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus late last month, Khaji said the Islamic Republic is ready to play an active role in the reconstruction of war-torn Syria and help the country in the face of unjust Western sanctions.

In a statement at the end of the 15th edition of the negotiations within the Astana format in the Russian resort city of Sochi in February, Iran, Russia, and Turkey stressed the importance of respect for Syria’s sovereignty and laid emphasis on the need to fight terrorism there until its complete eradication.

Since January 2017, Moscow, Tehran, and Ankara have been mediating peace negotiations between representatives of the Syrian government and opposition groups in a series of talks held in the Kazakh capital Astana (now named Nur-Sultan) and other places, including Sochi.

The talks are collectively referred to as the Astana peace process.

The first round of the Astana talks commenced a month after the three states joined efforts and brought about the countrywide ceasefire in Syria and assumed the role of the truce’s guarantors.

The negotiations have helped significantly reduce the violence gripping the Arab country by establishing de-escalation zones there, and also enabling the formation of the Constitutional Committee that is tasked with devising a new constitution for the Arab nation.

Over the past years, the US has been maintaining an illegal military presence on Syrian soil, collaborating with anti-Damascus militants and stealing the country’s crude oil resources.

It has also slapped rounds of crippling sanctions on Syria, which has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011.

Parts of the restrictive measures have been imposed under the so-called Caesar Act, an American piece of legislation that alleges to support the Syrian people by protecting them against the Syrian administration’s way of governance.

The bans target almost all Syrian economic and trade activities, as well as the country’s government officials.

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