US Not Invited to Astana Talks on Syria: Iran’s Top Security Official

Iran, Russia and Turkey have not sent any “joint invitation” to the US for taking part in the upcoming conflict resolution talks on Syria in Astana, Kazakhstan.

“Due to Iran’s objection to the US participation in the Astana gathering, Washington has been sent no joint invitation by the three countries, at whose initiative the meeting is to take place,” Ali Shamkhani, Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council said Wednesday.

The Kazakh capital is to host the negotiations between representatives from the Damascus government and foreign-sponsored opposition groups on January 23.

The talks are to be mediated by Russia, Turkey, and Iran.

The three countries have over the past several months been working together and holding trilateral talks aimed at improving the situation on the ground in the Arab country.

Last month, such efforts led to the conclusion of a deal enabling the evacuation of civilians and armed elements out of the northwestern city of Aleppo as it was being liberated by the Syrian Army.

Iranian officials, most importantly Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, have voiced opposition to Washington’s attendance, citing its dedication to the ouster of the Syrian government thought supporting the terror groups.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has, however, said he believes US representatives should be invited to the meeting.

The United States and its regional allies, namely Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, have been lavishing financial and political support on anti-Syria terror group since 2011, when the outfits unleashed their campaign of violence against the country.

Shamkhani said the US may only be invited to the talks as an observer at the invitation of the host country, adding that Washington cannot play a part in “managing, leading and directing the current initiatives on the Syria crisis,” including the Astana talks.

He cited Washington’s record of reneging on its commitments and incompetence in bringing about truce and directing the warring parties towards negotiation.

“As the country, which has had the most important role in supporting the Syrian government in fighting terrorism, the Islamic Republic will also be having a notable and active role in the political process, including the Astana meeting,” the official noted.

Iran has been lending political and military advisory support to Damascus in its uphill battle against terrorism.

Shamkhani also said only the armed groups, which have signed the all-Syria ceasefire and announced their commitment to inter-Syrian talks, as well as the UN envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura have been invited to the Astana talks.

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