Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

Iran Opposes 'Sochi' Prior to 'Settlement'

Iran Opposes 'Sochi' Prior to 'Settlement'

Saturday, 18 November, 2017 - 06:15
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, 2016. AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin

Diplomatic sources told Asharq Al-Awsat on Friday that Tehran is against Moscow’s insistence to hold the Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Sochi, adding that Russian President Vladimir Putin is currently exerting pressure on his Iranian and Turkish counterparts, Hassan Rouhani and Recep Tayyip Erdogan to outspread a unified position supporting “Sochi” during their trilateral summit expected next Wednesday.

Meanwhile, only days prior to the summit on Syria held between guarantor countries that brokered a ceasefire in the country last December, the Kurdish-controlled city of Afrin in northern Aleppo reemerged to the forefront.

In a speech to ruling party members in the capital Ankara, Erdogan said on Friday that Turkey needed to clear the Afrin region of Kurdish YPG militia fighters, who have been in the forefront of the battle there against ISIS insurgents. The comments alluded about the Turkish president might ask for a Russian military support in Afrin.

Commenting on the expected Sochi summit on Syria next Wednesday, Erdogan said that the main reason for holding such a meeting is the issue of Idlib in northern Syria.

“We want a permanent ceasefire in the so-called de-escalation zones,” he said.

Erdogan added that Turkey, Russian and Iran would meet prior to the Sochi summit in order to review the steps that should be taken in the future.

Diplomatic sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the de-escalation agreement which Iran, Russian and Turkey agreed on in Astana, will be the main issue on the agenda and meetings of high-ranking bureaucrats and foreign ministers who will meet in the Turkish city of Antalya on Sunday to assess the current situation of the deal in light of the continuous violations.

The Turkish, Iranian and Russian foreign ministers will meet in the southern province of Antalya, to prepare for the leaders’ summit on Nov. 22 in the Russian city of Sochi on efforts to cement a truce in Syria.

Separately, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday he hoped the summit in Sochi would encourage direct talks between Damascus and the opposition.

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