Russia and Iran Are Ready to Attract Other Countries as Observers in Syria
As a new round of Syria peace negotiations will be held in the Kazakh city of Astana in late August, ranking diplomats from Iran and Russia considered the possibility of involvement of new observer states in the peace talks.
In a meeting in Moscow on Tuesday, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Jaberi Ansari and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov held talks on the latest regional developments and on Tehran-Moscow cooperation for the resolution of crisis in Syria.
Discussing the process of Syria peace talks in Astana and Geneva, the need for humanitarian aid for the Syrian people and reconstruction of the war-hit Arab country, the two diplomats also weighed plans for the presence of new countries in the Astana talks which have demanded to join the process as observers.
Syria's warring sides have so far attended five rounds of peace talks brokered by Iran, Russia and Turkey in Astana. The fourth round of those talks in May produced a memorandum of understanding on de-escalation zones in Syria, sharply reducing fighting in the country.
The agreement also envisages creation of conditions for the delivery of medical assistance, restoration of damaged infrastructure, and return of displaced civilians to their homes.
The parties have agreed to convene the sixth round of Astana talks in the last week of August. The upcoming conference will be preceded by expert meetings, due to be held in Tehran this month.
Over the past six years, Syria has been fighting foreign-sponsored militancy. UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura estimated in August 2016 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.