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    Iran, Turkey call for ceasefire before Syria talks

    Iran foreign minister denies Syrian opposition charges that his government has provided military support to Assad’s forces

    Iran’s top diplomat said on Wednesday that Tehran and Ankara would press for a ceasefire in Syria ahead of peace talks planned for January, the Mehr news agency reported.

    “All our efforts should be carried out to finish the conflict and reach a ceasefire even before Geneva 2,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said after a meeting with his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu.

    “Iran and Turkey have similar standpoints on several issues, including that there is no military solution to the Syrian crisis,” Zarif said.

    “We should not wait until these two months (and let) the Syrian people suffer a worse situation. Even before Geneva 2, the ground should be prepared for reaching a ceasefire which will lead to success at Geneva 2,” he said.

    He urged “all the involved parties to respect a ceasefire”.

    Iran is a key ally of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad’s embattled regime, while neighbouring Turkey has strongly backed the rebels seeking to overthrow him.

    “Of course, Iran and Turkey have different stances on Syria but we try to minimise them. What matters is to finish the war in Syria and move towards a political solution,” Zarif said.

    “Iran’s policy is not to interfere in the internal affairs of regional countries,” he added, denying Syrian opposition charges that his government has provided military support to Assad’s forces.

    After multiple delays, the Geneva 2 peace conference, originally proposed by Russia and the United States earlier this year, is now scheduled for January 22, although the United Nations says it has yet to decide who will be invited.

    Iran said on Tuesday that it was ready to take part, provided there were no conditions attached. The Syrian opposition is strongly opposed to any Iranian participation.

    Davutoglu said Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will visit Iran next year, reciprocating a trip to Turkey by Iranian President Hasan Rohani scheduled for January.

    Zarif is to visit Turkey on December 17, the Fars news agency reported.


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