21 Feb 2024
Saturday 23 December 2017 - 16:02
Story Code : 287408

Astana-8 brings Russia-Iran-Turkey agreement on detainees, demining, Sochi talks

Sputnik News- Russia, Turkey and Iran, the guarantors of the ceasefire in Syria, have agreed to establish a working group on the release of detainees, adopted a statement on humanitarian mine clearance in the country and decided to meet in in January to prepare for the Syrian National Dialogue Congress during the 8th round of the Astana talks.

The latest two-day roundof the negotiations inthe capital ofKazakhstan finished onFriday.


UN Special Envoy forSyria Staffan de Mistura stopped byMoscow onThursday, onhis way toAstana tomeet withRussian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.

Lavrov said that the talks focused onthe issues related tothe political settlement ofthe Syrian conflict.
"Due tothe fact that the task ofeliminating the terrorist threat has been largely accomplished, we concentrated today onissues that need tobe resolved inorder togive the necessary pace tothe political process," Lavrov said ata joint news conference afterMoscow talks.

The Russian foreign minister said this meeting was a good opportunity to "advance the overall task ofthe political settlement."

Lavrov and Shoigu also used this meeting withde Mistura toexplain tohim indetail Russia's initiative onthe Syrian National Dialogue Congress inSochi.


Russia, Turkey, and Iran issued a joint statement onFriday, saying that the next roundof Astana talks would be held inthe late February.

The three states also said that they saw the upcoming Syrian National Dialogue Congress inSochi asa facilitator ofthe intra-Syrian talks inGeneva, held underthe UN auspices.

Moscow, Ankara, and Tehran agreed tomeet inSochi onJanuary 19-20 toprepare forthe congress, which is slated forJanuary 29-30.
"The Islamic Republic ofIran, the Russian Federation and the Republic ofTurkey asguarantors ofthe observance ofthe ceasefire regime inthe Syrian Arab Republic reaffirm their determination toclosely interact ona regular basis tosupport preparation forand convening ofthe Syrian national dialogue congress inSochi on29-30 January 2018 tothis end three guarantor states will hold a special preparation meeting inSochi beforethe congress, on19-20 January 2018," the joint statement read.

The three guarantors also agreed toset upa working group onthe release ofdetainees and adopted a statement onhumanitarian mine clearance inthe conflict-torn country.

"Adopt, witha view tobuilding confidence betweenthe conflicting parties inSyria, the 'Regulation onthe working Group onthe release ofdetainees/abductees aswell asthe identification ofmissing persons' and the statement onhumanitarian mine action inSyria including the UNESCO list ofcultural heritage sites," the document said.

De Mistura praised the agreement ondetainees, saying that it could become the first step towarda comprehensive arrangement betweenthe conflicting parties.

The head ofthe Syrian opposition delegation atAstana-8 talks, Ahmad Toma, said that the mechanism forthe release ofthe detainees was still missing butthe establishment ofthe working group onthis issue was a step forward.
"Today this issue [of detainees release] was discussed widely. We still do not have a document forchoosing a comprehensive mechanism forsolving it, butanyway I hope, it [working group ondetainees release agreed uponby guarantors atAstana-8] is an essential step forward, and we have three guarantors, and we will reach an agreement forfinding common ground," Toma told reporters.

Moscow, Ankara and Tehran said they were prepared toclosely coordinate preparations forthe Congress and urged the Syrian government and opposition tocooperate withthis effort.


Bashar Jaafari, who headed the Syrian government delegation atAstana talks, said that Damascus representatives had "several constructive meetings inAstana-8."
"The discussions focused onde-escalation areas, including inIdlib. We consider presence ofTurkish troops onSyrian territory asblatant aggression. It contradicts what was agreed inAstana-4 inMay onthe role ofguarantors inde-escalation areas," Jaafari said atthe plenary session ofAstana-8 meeting.

The Syrian diplomat also called forthe withdrawal ofUS troops fromSyria, calling it an "aggression" againstthe country.
"We demand forimmediate and unconditional withdrawal offoreign troops," he said.

Jaafari also confirmed that the delegation fromDamascus would take part inthe Syrian National Dialogue Congress.

The Syrian opposition plans tomull overthe participation inthese talks, according toToma.

Russian Special Presidential Envoy Alexander Lavrentyev also called this roundof talks successful, however, noted that episodes ofintense fighting inSyria's de-escalation zones continue.
"This roundof talks was successful, first ofall we have managed tonote a progressive development ofthe situation, the reduction ofthe level ofviolence, observation ofthe ceasefire regime. I should say that quite intense fighting continues incertain areas, butthis is mostly provocative innature and mainly initiated bythe so-called implacable armed opposition," Lavrentyev told Sputnik.


Lavrentyev told Sputnik onFriday, afterthe end ofthe talks, that de Mistura had been assured inMoscow that the settlement process inAstana was not inconflict withthe intra-Syrian talks inGeneva.

Lavrentyev added that de Mistura was planning toconvene the next Geneva meeting inlate January, sometime aroundJanuary 21.

The Russian special envoy also said that the reconciliation talks inAstana were becoming a good support system forthe promotion ofthe peaceful settlement.


Russia, Iran, and Turkey paid a lot ofattention tothe Syrian National Dialogue Congress inSochi, including its participants and timing, duringthe Astana negotiations, Lavrentyev said Friday.
"We, ofcourse, hope that the special envoy himself will come toSochi and will participate [in the Congress]. We very much count onthis, and we directly talk tohim aboutit. It is clear that the decision will be taken bythe UN leadership, butwe believe that this Congress should take place underthe aegis ofthe United Nations, and ofcourse this structure should be represented there inthe widest possible way, and not only bythe members ofthis organization, which are Russia, Turkey, Iran, Syria and others," Lavrentyev said.

According tohim, all the sides tothe Syrian conflict, including the government, internal and external opposition groups, will have the right toexpress their own vision ofSyria's future atthe Congress.
"But the most important thing is that people express their attitude not only tothe acting authorities butin general tohow they see a further way forward, how they see the organization oftruly impartial, fair and transparent elections ontheir territory There are many issues," Lavrentyev added.

Lavrentyev also expressed hope that the Syrian National Dialogue Congress will not be a one-time event and assumed that the work ondrafting a new Syrian constitution can continue inDamascus, Geneva or any other place.
"It is necessary toset a clear task and goal and we must strive forit. And then it is a process. We expect that this will not be a one-time event. If it goes underthe auspices ofthe United Nations, underGeneva, this will be absolutely normal and good. This will be precisely the contribution that we make tothe issue ofthe political settlement," Lavrentyev said.

According tohim, the Congress inSochi should lay the basis forthe work onthe new constitution.

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