Syria Conflict: Russia, Iran & Turkey Hold Joint Press Conference in Moscow
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Saturday hosted his Iranian and Turkey counterparts for talks on Syria in the wake of an alleged chemical attack that has exposed differences between the three powers.
The three nations have been attempting to find a political solution to the Syrian conflict at talks that started last year in Astana, Kazakhstan, in competition with the US and UN-backed Geneva initiative.
Foreign Minister Lavrov held separate bilateral talks with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu and then Iran's Mohammad Javad Zarif, who stressed the warmth of their relationship in opening comments. These were to be followed by three-sided talks.
Foreign Minister Lavrov began his remarks by pointing out that the US, French and British coalition airstrikes against Syria on April 14 were conducted before the OPCW completed its investigation into the alleged chemical attack in Douma on April 7.
The Russian foreign minister pointed out that cooperation between Russia, Iran and Turkey had helped Syria significantly in its struggle against the Wahhabi Daesh [Arabic acronym for "ISIS" / "ISIL"], the al-Nusra Front and other terrorist groups.
Lavrov emphasized that peace efforts should not be accompanied by preconditions, such as the resignation of the Syrian government.
The foreign minister said Saturday's talks will help consolidate further the efforts to abide by Resolution 2254 of the UN Security Council calling for a ceasefire and political settlement in Syria.
For his part, Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif voiced his hope that the Astana process was the only one that could result in lasting peace in Syria. There was no military solution to the Syrian crisis, he said.
Zarif pointed to the upcoming Astana summit in May to discuss political issues, including the exchange of prisoners.
The Iranian foreign minister also stressed that as a victim of chemical weapons in the past, Tehran condemns the use of such weapons, and hopes that an objective investigation on the ground in Syria by the OPCW will find out the truth. He added that those countries who supported Iraq during its use of chemical weapons, and said that these countries have no right to accuse Damascus today.
Zarif stressed that the global community has a responsibility to assist Syria, which has successfully fought against the terrorist groups such as Daesh and al-Nusra, in reconstruction efforts.
For his part, Foreign Minister Cavusoglu said that Saturday's talks discussed a whole gamut of issues related to the Syrian crisis and the Astana peace process. He also reiterated Turkey's support for Syria's territorial integrity.
Cavusoglu said that the shared goal of the three guarantor countries was to provide Syrians with a normal life, to provide humanitarian aid, and ultimately to find a political solution to the Syrian crisis. The upcoming meeting in Astana will be "one more step" in solidifying the ceasefire and bringing peace to Syria, he added.
The foreign minister admitted that there have been efforts to undermine the Astana talks by "some groups." He emphasized that the guarantors will continue their work, continue their cooperation, and making efforts at increasing such cooperation.
Cavusoglu urged every actor in the global community, including those trying to torpedo the political process, to contribute to the political process instead.
Ahead of the press conference, Lavrov said that Moscow believes that collective measures were necessary in the Astana peace talks format to normalize the situation in Syria. He also reiterated that Russia, Turkey and Iran need to work together to help Damascus clear the war-torn country of terrorists.
The Russian foreign minister added that unfortunately, "the events of recent weeks have shown that not everyone seems to want peace in Syria."
Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif thanked Lavrov for Russia's hospitality, noting that he had "lost count" of the number of meetings he has held with his Russian counterpart. He added that Moscow and Tehran have reached a high level of understanding not only in security, but the economy as well.
According to Zarif, the Astana platform for Syrian settlement was "the only initiative where Tehran cooperates with its Turkish partners, and this cooperation yields results."
Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team