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Russia-Iran-Turkey summit to be aimed at achieving progress on Syria, says Kremlin envoy

It was cnofirmed that the summit might take place in the Iranian capital of Tehran in early 2022

NUR-SULTAN, December 27. /TASS/. The agenda of the Astana format summit (Russia, Iran, Turkey) will be aimed at achieving more tangible progress in efforts to resolve the crisis in Syria, Russian Special Presidential Envoy for Syria Alexander Lavrentyev said in an interview with TASS.

"The agenda is the following: if a summit takes place, the parties consider the situation in efforts to resolve the Syria issue and interaction between the three guarantor countries in this direction. This is the main agenda that will be there. Our presidents will discuss what needs to be done to ensure more tangible progress with regard to the Syrian settlement. Accordingly, they will later instruct their envoys to continue this work," he pointed out.

Lavrentyev confirmed that the summit might take place in the Iranian capital of Tehran in early 2022. "It will be held early next year, that’s for sure, though the process has slowed down due to coronavirus restrictions. The decision to hold the next summit in Tehran was confirmed a year and a half ago. However, we cannot announce a specific month and day," the envoy added.

At the same time, in his words, the summit will have to be held in person. "An online summit took place in July last year. A year and a half have passed since then so we believe that it is necessary to hold an in-person meeting. Our president [Vladimir Putin] has talked about it with Iranian President [Ebrahim] Raisi and Mr. [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan," Lavrentyev noted. According to him, the summit is likely to be preceded by an in-person meeting of the foreign ministers of the guarantor countries. "When it comes to such meetings, they should be held in person. The reason is that the issues on the agenda are quite sensitive and it’s not reasonable to discuss them via video conference," he stressed. "The meeting will probably take place in Tehran or in Turkey. However, the summit itself will be held in Tehran because it is now Iran’s turn to host the event," Lavrentyev emphasized.

When asked when the next international Astana meeting on Syria would take place, the Russian presidential envoy said that it depended on when the Russia-Iran-Turkey summit was held. "If we manage to arrange it this spring, for instance, then our Astana format meeting will follow right away. This is how we view the situation. The presidents need to meet, talk, and outline avenues for future cooperation and order the relevant agencies to deal with the matter via the Astana platform. We will gather later to discuss specific mechanisms to implement the instructions that we will receive from our presidents," the diplomat concluded.

Senior Assistant to Iranian Foreign Minister for Special Political Affairs Ali Asghar Khaji told TASS on the sidelines of an international meeting on Syria earlier that Iran, Russia, and Turkey had agreed to hold a summit in Tehran in February or March 2022 depending on the coronavirus situation. The Iranian diplomatic official also said that the summit would be preceded by a meeting between the three countries’ top diplomats, slated for January or early February 2022.