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Astana Summit—Peace in Syria Is Near

Nov. 23, 2017 (EIRNS)—The joint declaration issued by the three Presidents of Russia, Iran and Turkey at the Astana summit for Syrian peace, held in Sochi, Russia yesterday, yesterday reaffirms their commitment to continuing their collaboration "with a view to establishing peace and stability in Syria, envisaged by UNSCR [UN Security Council Resolution] 2254." The three guarantor countries of the Syrian peace process expressed satisfaction with the current level of their trilateral cooperation and noted that

"over the 11 months since the establishment of the ceasefire regime on December 29, 2016, a breakthrough had been made in bringing closer the elimination of ISIL, Nusra Front and all other terrorist organizations as designated by the UNSC and agreed that Iran, Russia and Turkey will continue cooperation for their ultimate defeat."

They decided that they would continue their coordinated efforts until the reduction of violence in Syria is irreversible.

"The Heads of state reaffirmed their strong commitment to sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of The Syrian Arab Republic and emphasized that under no circumstances the creation of the above-mentioned de-escalation areas and at political initiative to solve the Syrian crisis undermine the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of The Syrian Arab Republic,"

they said. They called for "rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access" as well as confidence building measures "to create better condition for political process and lasting ceasefire." They also called on the international community to support the process of de-escalation with humanitarian aid, help in restoring basic infrastructure and other measures.

In remarks after the meeting, Putin placed particular stress on the importance of the Syrian National Dialogue Congress, which has been postponed, with no set date as yet.

"Generally, the idea is to bring together at the negotiating table delegations from various political parties, the domestic and external opposition and ethnic and religious groups. The congress will address key issues on the national agenda for Syria, above all those related to defining the parameters of future statehood, the adoption of a new constitution and, based on that, holding elections under UN oversight,"

Putin said.

"This will provide an incentive for stepping up efforts to bring about a settlement in Syria within the framework of the Geneva process. To reiterate, Syria’s fate should be decided by the Syrians themselves—both government loyalists and the opposition."

He reported that he had briefed Rouhani and Erdogan on his meeting with Assad on Monday.

"We took note of the Syrian leadership’s stated commitment to the principles of settling the political crisis by peaceful means and carrying out a constitutional reform, as well as free, UN-supervised elections."

Rouhani and Erdogan both fully endorsed the objectives of the National Dialogue Congress, as outlined by Putin.

"We hope that this congress will become a new step toward peace and stability in Syria, as well as to free elections in Syria, based on a new Constitution,"

Rouhani said. Erdogan also stressed the official Turkish view that there is no place for the Syrian Kurdish PYD/YPG in this process (the YPG is fully backed by the U.S. as part of the Syrian Democratic Forces). "Nobody should expect us to stay under the same roof with a terrorist organization that is encroaching on national security," he said.

"If we state our commitment to Syria’s territorial integrity, as well as to Syria’s political unity, we cannot see the blood-stained gang that is trying to divide the country as a legitimate player."