Putin, Rowhani agree to cooperate closely on Syria

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rowhani make their way prior to attending the Gas Exporting Countries Forum, GECF, summit meeting in Tehran, Iran, Monday, Nov. 23, 2015. (AP)

The presidents of Russia and Iran agreed on Monday to step up bilateral contacts, including over the Syrian conflict, in which both countries are allies of President Bashar al-Assad.

The Syrian government and Western-backed opposition are currently holding U.N.-mediated peace talks as part of a diplomatic push launched with U.S.-Russian support to end the five-year conflict in which more than a quarter of a million people have been killed.

The Kremlin said President Vladimir Putin and Iran’s Hassan Rowhani had exchanged views on the conflict and a range of other topical issues during a telephone call. It gave no further details.

Rowhani was quoted as saying cooperation and coordination between Tehran and Moscow were essential for peace in Syria.

“During the ceasefire, the political talks (among Syrian groups) should be accelerated but this should not halt the fighting against terrorists in Syria,” Iran’s state news agency IRNA quoted the president as saying.

Both the Kremlin and the secretary of the Iranian National Security Council (NSC) have congratulated Assad on the success of his forces in recapturing the desert city of Palmyra from Islamic State militants.

Ali Shamkhani, secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, sent a message to Assad to congratulate him on Sunday’s “admirable and honorable” win over ISIS.

Iran’s government and its armed forces “will continue to provide Syria with their full support” against the jihadists, Shamkhani said, according to the official news agency IRNA.

Iran provides financial and military support to Assad through its elite Revolutionary Guards, notably sending “military advisers” and volunteers” to fight alongside the Syrian army.

Guards chief Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari said “the situation in Syria is very good” after the recapture of Palmyra, Fars news agency reported.

Foreign ministry spokesman Hossein Jaber Ansari also lauded Syria’s victory and said that Tehran will continue to back the Assad regime and other governments battling extremism.

“Iran’s support continues for the fight against terrorism in Syria, Iraq and countries exposed to this threat,” Ansari told Iran's Arabic-language Al-Alam television.

“Syria will march forward strongly in the fight against terrorism and the terrorists definitely won't have a place in the future of the region,” he added.

Syrian troops ousted the militants from the ancient city on Sunday almost a year after they had seized it.

(With Reuters, AFP)
 

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