TEHRAN (Press Shia Agency) – China’s special envoy for Syria, Xie Xiaoyan, said the Astana and Geneva peace talks on the settlement of the Syrian crisis are “mutually supportive”, noting that a new round of the UN-mediated talks is expected to be held in the Swiss city in August.

“…I think you know, trying to put which platform is heavier or more effective is not the thing we should talk about. My view has always been that both platforms are necessary and helpful. The Geneva platform now concentrates on the political issues but of course fighting against terrorism is one of the basket issues and the Astana platform concentrates on ceasefire, monitoring systems, and de-escalating zones. They have their own roles to play. But they can be mutually supportive,” Xiaoyan told Press Shia Agency when asked to elaborate on the effectiveness of international peace-making efforts aimed at resolving the Syrian crisis. 

He added, “There should be more interactions between the two platforms. I think right now, for instance, (Staffan) de Mistura, the special envoy, goes to Astana and Russian, Syrian and oppositions groups go to Geneva. This is interaction I think, which is important. Let’s try to encourage, let’s hope that the two platforms will continue to function and function effectively. And let’s hope that the two platforms will, you know, make incremental progress as time goes on.”

The Chinese envoy said the UN-brokered peace talks on the Syrian crisis are expected to be held in August or September.

“…when I met de Mistura he told me that he plans to hold another round of dialogue at the end of August and maybe at the beginning of September. Let’s hope the meeting will be held and the opportunity does arise,” Xiaoyan said.

On May 16, the sixth round of Syrian peace talks were held under the auspices of the UN in Geneva as part of efforts to facilitate a political resolution of the deadly conflict in the Arab country.

The five previous rounds of the negotiations in Geneva brought together representatives from the Damascus government and opposition groups but failed to yield concrete results.

The fifth round of another initiative for peace in Syria, brokered by Iran, Russia and Turkey, was held in the Kazakh capital on July 6. According to a joint statement after the meeting, the three sides formed a working group to finalize an agreement on creating four de-escalation zones in Syria.

Meanwhile, Sputnik said at the time that the parties had reached an agreement on only two out of the four de-escalation zones, but will adopt the whole package of documents related to the issue during the next round of negotiations.

Asked about Beijing’s view on the de-escalation zones, the Chinese official said, “China is not directly involved in the establishment of de-escalation zones, but we have been informed by Russia and other players.”

“…I think the parties agreed to establish four de-escalation zones. That is the first step. I think the general agreement is that eventually, such de-escalation zones should cover all the country. I think that is a good news because continued fighting will not help. Only by reduction of tension, by keeping the ceasefire, by reducing the conflicts among the parties, we can hope to find a solution eventually. So let’s encourage all the parties to implement the agreement whether it is Russia, Turkey, Iran, the United States or Jordan. Let’s implement the agreement. Signing agreement, reaching agreement is one thing that is only on paper, the more important but much more difficult part is implementation. So implement the agreement later on,” Xiaoyan said.

The Chinese ambassador further expressed his country's support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the war-torn Arab country, stressing that the fate of President Bashar Assad should only be determined by the Syria nation, not external powers or rogue groups. 

Syria has been gripped by civil war since March 2011 with various terrorist groups, including Daesh (also known as ISIS or ISIL), currently controlling parts of it.

According to a report by the Syrian Center for Policy Research, the conflict has claimed the lives of over 470,000 people, injured 1.9 million others, and displaced nearly half of the country’s pre-war population of about 23 million within or beyond its borders.