Syria, Iran agree to continue cooperation on Idlib on UNGA sidelines – Damascus

Sputnik – Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem has discussed the implementation of the Russian-Turkish memorandum on the creation of the demilitarized zone in Syrian Idlib and Astana peace process with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif, the Syrian Foreign Ministry said on Saturday.

“The discussion revolved around the latest meetings between the guarantors of the Astana process, the implementation of the Sochi agreements [on the establishment of the demilitarized zone] and the constitutional commission. The sides agreed to continue consultations, cooperation and coordination,” the Syrian Foreign Ministry said in a statement via its official Facebook page commenting on the meeting that took place on the sidelines of the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly in New York.

The ministry also stated that, during the meeting, Walid Muallem has discussed the establishment of the demilitarized zone in Syrian Idlib province and the delivery of humanitarian aid to the country with the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

In addition, the parties discussed the agreement on Idlib and the efforts aimed at forming the constitutional commission which led to the confirmation from the Secretary-General that the United Nations was ready “to make efforts aimed at forming the constitutional commission and to work to provide humanitarian aid.”

In his turn, Minister Muallem, confirmed that “the UN was promoting the political process, which should be conducted under the Syrian guidance, belonged to Syrians without any external intervention,” the ministry said.

The meeting of the high profile officials took place on the sidelines of the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly in New York which involved Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad, Syrian Permanent Representative to the United Nations Bashar Jaafari and the adviser of the Syrian foreign minister Ahmad Arnus.

The discussions of the demilitarized zone during the meeting came following the reports last week stating that Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed an agreement on setting up a 9-12 mile demilitarized zone in Idlib along the contact line of the armed opposition and the government forces by October 15.

The agreement was aimed at preventing bloodshed, as the Syrian government was preparing an offensive in response to what it said were provocations from the militant-held enclave.

Idlib is the last holdout for extremist and rebel forces fighting to topple the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Russia and Turkey, along with Iran, are the guarantors of the ceasefire in Syria, constantly engaged in dialogue on crisis settlement.