Russia, Turkey, Iran sign agreement for safe Syria zones

Indo Asian News Service

Astana, May 4 (IANS) Russia, Turkey and Iran on Thursday agreed to create safe areas in Syria following ceasefire talks in Astana with representatives from the Damascus regime and delegates representing the armed Syrian opposition.

"As a result (of the Astana Process negotiations), the guarantor countries have agreed to sign the memorandum to create de-escalation zones in Syria," Kazakhstan's Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov said.

Two members of the opposition delegation left the plenary meeting in protest of Iran's presence as a guarantor, while most of the other opposition delegates attended the signing ceremony, Efe news reported.

"Iran has no right to sign this document because it is an aggressor country," one of the member shouted, interrupting Abdrakhmanov in mid sentence.

After the signing ceremony, the head of the Syrian government delegation in Astana, Bashar al-Ja'afari, shrugged off the outburst as "not important," telling EFE that their accusation against Iran was "just talk".

The head of the Russian delegation, Alexander Lavrentiev, called it a lack of diplomacy.

"These are the personal emotions of the representative of the opposition and the incident indicates a weak diplomatic undertaking," Lavrentiev said, adding that, "representatives of the Syrian government also have emotions".

Abdrakhmanov announced that the fifth round of talks in Astana would be held in mid-July, while consultations prior to that meeting would take place in Ankara.

The UN special representative for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, is taking part in the talks to support efforts aimed at consolidating the ceasefire.