Conflicts & War

Iranian FM visits Syria to revive stalled peace process

Damascus, Apr 20 (efe-epa).- Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif met Syrian President Bashar Assad for the first time in over a year on Monday to discuss the stalled Astana Syrian peace process.

Zarif and Assad, both wearing masks, discussed the peace talks, which have been frozen since the outbreak of the global pandemic forced the suspension of all non-essential travel.

The meeting also addressed the efforts by a committee tasked with writing a new constitution, the Syrian presidency said in a statement without providing further details.

Zarif and Assad also discussed Turkey’s continuous “transgressions” against Syrian sovereignty, “whether through direct occupation of territory or by increasing the number of what it calls observation points which are actually military bases,” the statement said.

Iran, one of Assad’s main allies since the war broke out in 2011, has deployed Shiite militias and military consultants to support the Syrian regime.

Iranian bases, located mostly on the outskirts of Damascus and near the border with Iraq, have been repeatedly attacked by Israel.

Iran, alongside Turkey and Russia, sponsors the Astana peace process, with Tehran and Moscow mediating to ease tensions between Ankara and Damascus that escalated in February.

A ceasefire agreed by Turkey, which supports the Syrian opposition, and Russia, which backs Assad the regime, came into force on 6 March.

The truce still stands, despite some sporadic violations.

The process of writing a new constitution that could end the war was due to be resumed after being suspended by intra-Syrian disagreements, but no progress has been made.

Earlier in the day, Zarif met his Syrian counterpart Walid al Mualem, with both denouncing

the “economic terrorism imposed on the people of the two countries” by the United States, whom Zarif and Assad also accused of politicizing the coronavirus crisis.

Since the pandemic began, both countries have repeatedly asked for the economic sanctions to be lifted so they can effectively counter the outbreak.

Syria has reported 38 coronavirus cases and two deaths, according to the most recent figures by the World Health Organization. EFE-EPA


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