TEHRAN (Press Shia Agency) – A senior Iranian diplomat held talks with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus on Wednesday.

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Jaberi Ansari, who arrived in Syria in the early hours of Wednesday, met with President Assad later in the day ahead of a fresh round of Syria peace negotiations in the Kazakh city of Astana that will be held in some two weeks.

The ranking diplomat, also Iran’s top negotiator in the Astana talks, has traveled to Syria for talks on the latest developments in the war-ravaged country and coordinating policies for the upcoming round of the Astana talks.

The trip comes a few days after the United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura visited Iran and held talks with senior Iranian officials on ways to end the war in Syria.

Syria’s warring sides have so far attended five rounds of peace talks in Astana, brokered by Iran, Russia and Turkey, known as the guarantors of a ceasefire in the Arab country.

The fourth round of those talks in May produced a memorandum of understanding on de-escalation zones in Syria, sharply reducing fighting in the country.

Over the past six years, Syria has been fighting foreign-sponsored militancy. De Mistura estimated in August 2016 that more than 400,000 people had been killed in the Syrian crisis until then. The UN has stopped its official casualty count in Syria, citing its inability to verify the figures it receives from various sources.