Iran Foreign Minister Zarif visits Syria for talks with Assad

Iran Foreign Minister Zarif visits Syria for talks with Assad
Iran's foreign minister, Mohammed Javad Zarif, arrived in Damascus for meetings with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
2 min read
16 April, 2019
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif arrived in Syria for talks [AFP/Getty]
Iranian Foreign Minister, Mohammed Javad Zarif, will meet with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Tuesday, according to IRNA news agency.

The meeting comes ahead of fresh talks in Kazakhstan next week aimed at ending Syria's eight-year civil war.

Zarif landed in the Syrian capital of Damascus for his one-day visit, which came at Assad's request.

Following on from his visit, Zarif will head to Turkey for talks with Turkish officials, reported Anadolu Agency.

Zarif told reporters Tuesday the meetings will focus on the latest regional and international issues. 

Iran, one of Damascus's key allies, is one of the guarantors - alongside Turkey and Russia- in the Syrian ceasefire agreement, called Astana.

Zarif and Assad discussed "the next round of Astana talks and the importance of lasting communication between Damascus and Tehran for continued cooperation", the presidency said in a statement.

After a meeting between Zarif and his Syrian counterpart Walid Muallem, Muallem said Iran, Russia and Turkey will focus on Idlib in northwestern Syria, pro-government newspaper al-Watan said.

Despite a ceasefire agreement, Idlib has seen heavy bombing from Russian and regime forces aimed at eliminating an extremist presence.

Endless rounds of UN-backed Syria peace talks have failed to stem the bloodshed, and Iran, Russia and Turkey have sponsored the parallel Astana negotiations track since early 2017.

Tehran has provided steady political, financial and military backing to Assad throughout the war, which has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since 2011.

Zarif entered headlines in February when he suddenly resigned. Analysts have said his resignation was in protest over being left out of meetings with Assad on his visit to Iran.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani rejected Zarif's shock resignation and said it stands "against the country’s interests".

Iran has been struggling to cope with flash flooding in recent weeks. Zarif has accused the US of impeding aid efforts and "economic terrorism" through its sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

Zarif said the Iranian foreign ministry will publish documents which show the US administration has been actively disrupting the sending of financial aid to flood-impacted areas in Iran, in a Ibid News clip.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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