World, Middle East

No preconditions for attending Astana Syria meet: Iran

Iran Foreign Ministry spokesman dismisses recent news reports of Iranian, Russian and Turkish ‘zones of influence’ in Syria

02.01.2017
No preconditions for attending Astana Syria meet: Iran Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Bahram Ghasemi gestures as he speaks during a press conference organized at Foreign Ministry building in Tehran, Iran on January 2, 2017. ( Fatemeh Bahrami - Anadolu Agency )

TEHRAN

Turkey, Russia and Iran are the only countries expected to take part in a scheduled meeting in Kazakhstan later this month devoted to recent peace efforts for Syria, Iran’s Foreign Ministry said Monday.

Asked if Iran had set any preconditions on its attendance of the meeting -- set for mid-January in Kazakh capital Astana -- ministry spokesman Bahram Kasimi said: "Dictating views is out of the question… We do not have any special conditions."

Asked about a recent Reuters report claiming that Turkey, Iran and Russia were mulling the possibility of dividing post-war Syria into "zones of influence", Kasimi described the assertion as "irrelevant and wrong".

"We respect the territorial integrity of Syria," he said. "Changing borders and violating the national sovereignty of countries is wrong."

Following last week’s Syria ceasefire deal brokered by Turkey and Russia, the Astana meeting comes as part of ongoing efforts by the two countries to promote a political process in war-torn Syria.

Syria has been locked in a devastating civil war since early 2011, when the Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests -- which erupted as part of the "Arab Spring" uprisings -- with unexpected ferocity.

Since then, more than a quarter of a million people have been killed and more than 10 million displaced as a direct result of the conflict, according to UN figures.

Reporting by Mustafa Melih Ahishali and Elahe Salari; Writing by Didar Yüsra Dilruba Öz

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