Top diplomat: Iran made concessions in Astana to achieve ‘bigger goal’  

February 18, 2017 - 20:6

TEHRAN – A top Iranian diplomat revealed on Saturday that Iran had compromised on its stance in the recent Syrian talks in Astana in an effort to keep the initiative alive, which he called the “bigger goal.”

“Iran did its best during the recent Astana talks, and put aside disagreements,” said Hossein Jaberi Ansari, who led the Iranian delegation in the talks.

“And we did that as we strived for a bigger goal of addressing challenges ahead more openly to pave the way for pushing ahead,” he added.

The diplomat declined to comment on the “disagreements,” which he said had “probably” caused a one-day delay in the get-together. 
The second round of talks on the Syrian crisis was concluded in Kazakhstan’s Astana on Thursday without a final statement, unlike the previous first one. 

Yet, Russia, Iran and Turkey decided to create a joint group as part of the Syria ceasefire monitoring mechanism and tasked themselves with separating terrorist groups from the armed opposition.

The negotiations, an initiative taken by Russia, Iran, and Turkey on December 20 and endorsed by the United Nations, have so far failed to bring about impressive outcomes.

A shaky ceasefire has been in place since the beginning of the New Year, and as participants to the talks have announced, stabilization of the ceasefire has been a prime goal since then.

Also, the negotiations were successful in the sense that it was the first time that representatives of armed rebel forces and those of the Syrian government were both present at the talks.

While Iran and Russia back Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Turkey demands that he steps down.

Ankara has been acting confusingly, espousing the negotiation table and simultaneously calling for the announcement of a no-fly zone in northern Syria.

“Our objective here is (to establish) an area of at least 4,000, 5,000 square kilometers free from terrorism, to create a safe zone,” President Erdogan said, echoing similar remarks in the past that the zone would alleviate the burden of accommodating Syrian refugees. 

Ankara began its unauthorized military operation in northern Syria in August 2016, claiming that it was aimed at supporting the militants in northern Syria in the fight against Daesh terrorists. 

However, people familiar with the issue say the military intervention aims at dealing setbacks to U.S.-backed Kurdish militia fighters in the area. 

There are hopes that Tehran, Moscow and Ankara can reach a common ground on the crisis, which has been going on for six years now.

“We hope for a common understanding between the three countries that will change the course of events in Syria,” Jaberi Ansari said.

Reportedly, a third round of negotiations will be held in Geneva on February 23.

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