Iran Daily: Talks in Russia on Syria

20 Jan 2018 – Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister has conferred in Moscow with Russian officials over the Syrian conflict — but the talks have been complicated by Turkey’s impending military offensive against a Kurdish canton in the northwest of the country.

Hossein Jaberi Ansari and an Iranian delegation met Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov. Afterwards, the Iranian minister put out the template statement, “The two countries have great capacities to solve regional problems, particularly with regard to the fight against terrorism and we hope that these consultations will help boost and develop such capacities.”

Jaberi Ansari said preparations with Russia and Turkey were being made for the “national congress” to be held in the southern Russian resort city of Sochi.

For months, Russia has looked to seize the political initiative by convening the Assad regime and other parties to the conflict in Sochi. The discussions could overtake the UN-backed Geneva process, which the regime sees as holding no value.

However, the Sochi gathering has been repeatedly postponed, in part because Turkey objects to the involvement of leading Syrian Kurdish factions. Russia now says the conference is scheduled for “late January”.

Jaberi Ansari made no comment on Friday about Turkey’s announcement of the start of military operations against the Kurds in the Afrin canton. Ankara believes the Syrian Kurdistan Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its YPG militia are part of the Turkish Kurdish insurgency PKK. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has promised to eliminate “terrorists” from the Turkish-Syrian border.