TEHRAN, Jan. 23 (Press Shia Agency) – Iran’s FM Spokesman Bahram Ghasemi hailed the Astana talks for being the initiative of three major regional countries, saying establishment of ceasefire will be the most important topic during the talks.

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Ghasemi made the remarks in his weekly press conference in Tehran on Monday, adding “the special aspect of the Astana talks is that three major and regional players (Iran, Russia, Turkey) have initiated it so there is hope that their realistic approach and careful planning would help further facilitate the Syrian-Syrian negotiations.”

He went on to add, “the Astana talks is the results of trilateral efforts made by Iran, Russia and Turkey that are attending as observers and will try to facilitate and manage the talks between the Syrian government and the opposition groups.”

Noting that the issue of ceasefire will be the major topic of today’s talks in the Kazakh capital, Ghasemi added “it is unlikely that other topics will be discussed as well, because there is not enough time for that. However, if this meeting can lead to some positive steps toward a sustainable ceasefire, that is a great achievement based on which further decisions can be made about the future of Syria.”

Ghasemi deemed Iran’s role on the Syrian situation ‘unmatched’, saying no one can advance a plan in Syria without first coordinating it with Tehran; “I regard Iran’s position on the Syrian situation as highly influential and our capabilities far more than before. Iran will continue its close monitoring of the developments in Syria, the region and across the world,” he stressed. 

He went on to add that there never was any agreement between Iran, Turkey and Russia on the involvement of any other country in the Astana talks, noting “we had been against the participation of the US from the beginning because we believe that their presence can never be sincere and effective. Our reasoning for this is the American’s bad reputation for backing terrorist groups and making attempts at destabilizing the Syrian government.”

About the visit of Kuwait’s Foreign Minister to Iran, Ghasemi maintained that an agreement has been reached on the date of the visit and it will be announced to the media in two or three days. He also added that deputy prime minister of Kuwait will also accompany the foreign minister on this visit. 

In regard to Iran’s stance on US President Trump’s Islamophobic remarks, he said “Trump, unlike the previous presidents of the United States that had a clear, definite stance on issues during and after the elections, is not clear and certain on his views.”

He went on to add, “we cannot yet have an accurate evaluation of his positions. As a whole, Trump’s views on Islam, Europe, America and other global issues are not clear, precise and reassuring, and we need to wait and see how things develop.”

Ghasemi was then asked if any decision was adopted in regard to the addressed the dreadful situation of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar during the recent ad hoc meeting by the foreign ministers of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) countries in Kuala Lumpur. He maintained that Iran is sensitive on this issue outside the OIC meeting and Foreign Minister Zarif had sent a letter to the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres to demand international action to stop rights violations against the Rohingya Muslims. “An executive committee on the situation of Muslims in Myanmar was also formed of which Iran is a member. We hope that international efforts will soon come together to improve the situation of Rohingya Muslims,” he added. 

Ghasemi then announced that France’s Foreign Minister is slated for an upcoming visit to Tehran. “Mr. Ayrault is also in charge of Iran-France joint economic commission. As far as I’m informed, an economic delegation will accompany French foreign minister to Tehran in the near future,” he added.

To a question about rumors on Iran’s covert ties with the new US government, Ghasemi dismissed the rumors, adding “we have never had any talks with the US except for the nuclear issue during the negotiations with the 5+1 countries. I do not see any prospect for further negotiations with the US happening. There has never been any communication with the new US government.”

MS