Astana partners condemn US decision over Golan Heights
“The Islamic Republic of Iran, the Russian Federation and the Republic of Turkey as guarantors of the Astana format ... strongly condemned the decision of the U.S. administration to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Syrian Golan Heights, which constitutes a grave violation of international law, particularly the U.N. Security Council resolution 497, and threatens peace and security in the Middle East,” the statement on the 12th round of the Astana talks said.
Officials from Turkey, Russia and Iran met on April 25-26 in the Kazakh capital Nur-Sultan for the 12th round of Astana talks. They discussed the Idlib province in northwestern Syria and efforts to draft a new Syrian constitution, a major step for a future political settlement of the war-torn country.
“The parties agreed to continue their coordination regarding the situation on the east of [River] Euphrates. They rejected separatist agendas that pose threat to the political unity and territorial integrity of Syria, and to the national security of neighboring countries,” a written statement by Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said.
The parties reiterated their determination to implement the agreements on the stabilization of the situation in the Idlib de-escalation area and welcomed steps taken to this end, including coordinated patrols, said the ministry.
The parties reaffirmed their commitment to continue their cooperation in combating terrorism and agreed on taking concrete steps aimed at decreasing ceasefire violations in the area, according to the statement.
The parties agreed to invite neighboring countries, Iraq and Lebanon, to the subsequent high-level meetings on Syria as observers. The eighth meeting of the Working Group established for the release of detainees was also held in the margins of the meeting. The parties have expressed their satisfaction on the mutual and simultaneous release of several persons detained by the opposition groups and the regime on Nov. 24 2018, Feb. 12 and April 22 as a project of the Working Group.
On April 26, the parties held consultations with U.N. Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Syria Ambassador Geir O. Pedersen on the establishment and the convening of the Constitutional Committee at the earliest in Geneva.
Speaking at the end of the first day of talks in Kazakhstan with Iran, Turkey and delegations from the Syrian regime and its armed opponents, Russia’s Syria negotiator Aleksandr Lavrentyev said the talks over the committee were “complex” but “moving forward.” “We are on a complex path towards forming the constitutional committee. There are some unclear issues,” he told reporters.
The decision to set up a constitutional committee was agreed on at the Syrian National Dialogue Congress, held in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi on Jan. 30, 2018. The foreign ministers of the Astana troika - Russia, Iran and Turkey - handed over to former U.N. Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura the list of the committee’s members.
However, the names proposed for the committee of civil society were dominated by former Syrian government officials, according to Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu. Russia and Iran for months have been conducting diplomacy with the Syrian government to revise this list.