TEHRAN (Press Shia Agency) – The next round of negotiations on the settlement of the Syrian crisis within the framework of Astana process – involving Iran, Russia and Turkey as the three guarantors of peace – will be held in the Russian city of Sochi on July 30 and 31, a Russian diplomat announced.
"It will be held in the last two days of July, that has essentially been agreed, and in the format that we used before, that is, the three guarantor countries, the observer states and the Syrian parties," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin told reporters on Friday.
"I believe the work in the Astana format is a big achievement, and we would like to push ahead with these efforts," Tass quoted him as saying.
According to Vershinin, an important result of the Astana process is establishment of a working group on exchanging detainees and bodies of those killed.
"This is hard work, but so far the only efforts, which help establish trust between the parties to the conflict," he stressed, adding, "This group held its regular meeting in Ankara recently, and it will continue to work in the future, including, I hope, on the sidelines of the Astana format meeting in Sochi on July 30-31."
Iran, Russia and Turkey have so far held several rounds of peace talks in Astana and elsewhere to help end the conflict in Syria. The fourth round of those talks in May 2017 produced a memorandum of understanding on de-escalation zones in Syria, sharply reducing fighting in the country.
Diplomatic efforts to end fighting in Syria gained momentum in 2017 with the announcement of a ceasefire in the Arab country in early January.
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.