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Russia, Jordan say working with US to set up Syria safe zone

AFP , Monday 11 Sep 2017
Ayman al-Safadi, Sergei Lavrov
Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman al-Safadi (R) gives a joint press conference with Russian his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov at the Foreign Ministry in Amman on September 11, 2017 (Photo: AFP)
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Jordan and Russia said Monday a ceasefire brokered with the United States for southern Syria was "successful" and the next step would be to set up a safe zone there.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov made their remarks at a joint news conference in Amman.

Jordan shares a border of more than 370 kilometres (230 miles) with Syria, where upwards of 330,000 people have been killed and millions displaced since its conflict broke out in 2011.

A ceasefire brokered by Jordan, Russia and the United States in the southern Syrian provinces of Daraa, Quneitra and Suweida has largely held since it came into force on July 9.

Both Safadi and Lavrov told reporters the ceasefire had been "successful".

"We discussed issues pertaining to setting up a de-escalation zone in southeastern Syria," Lavrov said, according to an Arabic translation of remarks he made in Russian.

Safadi said Jordan, Russia and the United States were "determined to meet the objective" of setting up a safe zone in the area "as soon as possible".

He said talks were under way between the three countries to establish the zone.

De-escalation in southern Syria is part of a broader Moscow-backed plan to create four "de-escalation zones" in rebel-held parts of the country.

Russia and Iran, main allies of the Syrian government, and rebel-backer Turkey agreed in May to create the four zones in a deal aimed at bringing about a lasting truce.

Last month, Jordan government spokesman Mohamed Momani said Amman was hoping to reopen border crossings with Syria, noting that relations between the neighbours had been going in the "right direction".

The economy of Jordan, a country devoid of natural resources, has been severely affected by the closure of its borders with Iraq and Syria, which are both at war.

The United Nations says Jordan is hosting more than 650,000 Syrian refugees, but authorities in the kingdom put their actual number at 1.4 million.

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