Over the last few days, officials from Russia and Iran have carried out intensified visits to the Syrian capital in light of the ongoing discussions to end the dilemma of forming the Syrian constitutional committee, as well as other issues, as Moscow discusses the issue of “normalizing” relations between Arab countries and the Assad regime
On Saturday, the regime head Bashar al-Assad received Yury Borisov, the Deputy Prime Minister of Russia, who is also head of the Russian side of the Joint Russian-Syrian Committee for Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation. This came one day after a meeting between the regime head and a Russian delegation coming from Riyadh, led by Alexander Lavrentiev, the Russian president’s Special Envoy to Syria. This was after a visit by the Iranian Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, to Assad in Damascus on Tuesday, as the latest round of Astana talks are set to take place between Apr. 25-26, 2019.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the Russian delegation’s discussions with Bashar al-Assad concerned the issues that are part of the political settlement in Syria, “in accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254.” It said that: “special attention has been paid in this regard to the task of forming the constitutional committee and beginning its work as soon as possible.”
The Russian Foreign Ministry said that the discussions also included: “arranging matters in Syria in the post-war period and normalizing Syrian relations with Arab countries.”
This Russian delegation’s visit to Damascus came one day after it had discussed Syria with the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammad bin Salman, who received the head of the Syrian Negotiations Committee, Nasr al-Hariri in the same delegation at Moscow’s embassy in the Saudi capital.
The Syrian Negotiations Committee said that its head’s meeting with Lavrentiev came at, “the invitation of the Russians. The two sides discussed the formation of the constitutional committee scheduled to be announced during the upcoming Astana meetings on the 25th and 26th of this month, and the rules and procedures governing it, not in conflict with the content of UN Resolution 2254.”
On Tuesday, the Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif visited Damascus and met with Assad before heading to Ankara, where he met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, where Zarif said that his country was working to, “restore relations to normal between all countries, including Turkey and Syria.”
But a spokesman for Erdogan denied that there was “contact with the Syrian regime” and denied reports about Iranian mediators working between Ankara and the regime. Commenting on this issue, he said that: “the Iranian foreign minister’s visit to Ankara was not to carry out mediation between Turkey and the Syrian regime, and there are no efforts in this respect.”
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.