Russia, Iran, Turkey working on next Astana meeting: Moscow

November 6, 2020 - 19:51

TEHRAN — Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has said that Russia, Iran and Turkey are working on the agenda for the next international high-level meeting on Syria in the Astana format, that was postponed amid the coronavirus pandemic.

During a briefing on Thursday, Zakharova said Russia comes out in favor of saving the Astana format to facilitate the crisis settlement in Syria that has proven its effectiveness, and gives high marks to the level of cooperation achieved by the three countries considered as guarantors of the process.
"Due to a new wave of the pandemic, the dates for the 15th international meeting on Syria on that platform have to be pushed back," she said, according to TASS.

"We are trying to take advantage of this forced pause to think together with the partners about how to fill the Astana meetings with new concrete themes along with concrete discussion regarding the possibility of surmounting the existing problems, in order to make the subject matter of this meeting not only eventful, but also effective and constructive," the spokeswoman said.

The guarantors will also think about giving these meetings "a new impetus, including through higher activity within the framework of the working group for the release of detainees/ abductees, handover of bodies and search for the missing," Zakharova added.

Iran, Russia, and Turkey have been leading a peace initiative to bring the Syrian crisis to an end. The initiative is known as the Astana process, because Kazakhstan’s capital, Nur-Sultan, formerly called Astana, originally hosted the meetings.

The Astana process has so far resulted in two agreements. The first deal was signed in Nur-Sultan, arranging for the creation of de-escalation zones across Syria, including in parts of Idlib.

The second deal was signed in the Russian resort city of Sochi, allowing Ankara to bring in a small number of forces to man the observation posts to reinforce de-escalation.

Under the Astana initiative, a meeting was planned for March 2020, but was postponed amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. However, the conflict has been winding down as the Syrian government reasserts control over parts formerly held by terrorist groups.


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