Syria: No Place for S. Arabia, Qatar in Astana Peace Talks

Syria: No Place for S. Arabia, Qatar in Astana Peace Talks

     Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mikdad underlined that Saudi Arabia and Qatar will not be invited to peace talks in Astana as long as they insist on their role as main sponsors of terrorist groups in Syria.

“Those sides which have supported the terrorists with funds and arms will play no role in the negotiations,” Mikdad was quoted as saying by Arabic-language al-Mayadeen news channel on Wednesday.

“If Saudi Arabia and Qatar end their support for the terrorists, then we will study their partnership in the negotiations,” he added.

His remarks came hours after Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani also underlined that Washington would play no role in the Astana meeting.

“Given Iran’s opposition to the US partnership in Astana conference, no joint invitation has been extended to the US by the three countries (Iran, Russia and Turkey) who initiated the meeting,” Shamkhani said on Wednesday.

He said that given the US record of non-commitment and inefficiency in establishment of ceasefire and holding talks between the two sides of the war in Syria there is no reason for Washington’s partnership in managing and leading the current political initiatives for resolution of the Syrian crisis “and the country’s role in the Astana conference is completely rejected”.

Shamkhani, meantime, said Kazakhstan as the host of the meeting may invite the US as an observer state.

He underscored his country’s active presence in Astana talks, and said only those militant groups which have signed the ceasefire agreement with the government and announced commitment to the Syrian-Syrian talks have been invited to the Astana meeting along with the UN representative.

Also, on Tuesday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif stressed that Tehran is against the US participation in the upcoming Astana talks on January 23.

Tehran is against the participation of the United States in the talks on the Syrian settlement, which will be held in Astana on January 23, Zarif said.
“We are opposed to US presence [at the Astana meeting],” Zarif said.

“We have not invited the US and are against its presence,” he said.

Negotiations to reach a resolution to the six-year war in Syria are due to begin in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana later this month between the Syrian government and opposition.

Following last month’s Syria cease-fire deal, the Astana meeting comes as part of ongoing efforts by Iran, Russia and Turkey to promote a political solution in war-torn Syria.


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