Tuesday, 21 May, 2019

Iranian, Russian FMs Discuss Syria, JCPOA

Iranian women mourn during the funeral ceremony of two fighters killed in Syria in southern Tehran Iran Iranian women mourn during the funeral ceremony of two fighters killed in Syria in southern Tehran Iran
Patty Aguilar | 18 January, 2018, 03:38

The U.S. -led coalition is now training Syrian militias and plans to establish a new border force together with the Kurdish-led opposition fighters, consisting of 30,000 personnel over the next several years, according to the coalition.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says the US still wants Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime out of power - but warned that change might not happen for a while.

"Iran and Russian Federation are trying to deprioritise the transition", he said.

The U.S. goals in the region, Tillerson said, are aimed at ensuring a lasting defeat of ISIS and Al Qaeda, creating the conditions for Syrian refugees to return to the country, curbing Iranian influence in the region and holding United Nations -supervised elections aimed at securing new leadership in Damascus. He added that the U.S.is "not going to chase him". "It could open the door to the future partition of Syria". "But change will come".

"I had to get used to it early on, because it was very unconventional for all of us", Tillerson said.

Syrian opposition member Hadi al-Bahra welcomed Tillerson's announcement but urged more details.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signaled deeper USA commitment to Syria on Wednesday, saying America would maintain its military presence there to prevent an Islamic State resurgence.

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While Tillerson insisted that the USA wouldn't get into the business of nation-building in Syria, he promised "stabilization initiatives in liberated areas" such as help restoring basic services and getting rid of mines and other explosives left from the civil war. And Republicans and Democrats in the USA have grown anxious that both of Assad's allies are now entrenched in the country, with Iran in particular posing an immediate threat to neighboring Israel. Russian Special Presidential Envoy for the Middle East and Africa, Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov and a delegation of the Syrian opposition's National Renewal Movement, headed by its leader Nahas Obeida, have discussed preparations for the Syrian National Dialogue Congress, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.

But it was not immediately clear how or why Moscow would heed Washington's oft-repeated demands.

Speaking at Stanford University after being introduced by former top diplomat Condoleezza Rice, Tillerson said the Trump administration was determined not to repeat President Barack Obama's "mistake" when he withdrew US troops from Iraq in 2011.

Tillerson praised Turkey's contribution to the fight against Islamic State.

However, he said that once he looks at the information it's "just his way of wanting to communicate on the subject".

He said any interim deal "must be truly representative and must not threaten any neighboring states" - a reference to Turkey's fear that Kurdish groups will carve out an autonomous territory in areas straddling the border.

Assad has responded to the plan by vowing to drive USA troops from Syria.

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