Iran's Zarif hails Syria truce as 'major achievement'

AFP , Friday 30 Dec 2016

In this Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2016 file photo, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, left, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, center, and Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, attend a joint news conference after their talks in Moscow, Russia (Photo: AP)

Iran's foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Friday welcomed a nationwide truce in Syria as a "major achievement" that could lead to renewed peace talks.

On the deal brokered by Russia and Turkey -- potentially a significant breakthrough in the nearly six-year conflict -- Zarif said: "Ceasefire in Syria is a major achievement.

"Let's build on it by tackling the roots of extremist terror," he posted on Twitter.

Zarif spoke by telephone Thursday with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on the latest developments in Syria, where Iran has offered considerable military, financial and diplomatic aid to defend President Bashar al-Assad.

"Both sides welcomed the nationwide ceasefire and emphasised the fight against terrorism, Islamic State (IS) and Al-Nusra groups and their allies," the official IRNA news agency said.

Zarif and Lavrov agreed to "continue consultation and coordination within the framework of the tripartite agreement among Turkey, Iran and Russia to hold talks between the Syrian government and rebels" in Kazakstan, it added.

Turkey and Russia are pushing for talks between the regime and rebels in Astana to begin next month.

The ceasefire, announced Thursday by Russian President Vladimir Putin and confirmed by the Syrian army and opposition, does not include designated "terrorists" such as IS.

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