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Iran's top diplomat in Damascus ahead of Syria talks

AFP  |  Damascus 

Iran's visited on Tuesday ahead of a fresh round of talks next week in towards ending Syria's eight-year civil war.

and are key allies of the regime, and along with rebel backer have sponsored the so-called negotiations track to end the conflict.

is to host a fresh round of talks on April 25-26 in its capital, last month renamed from to Nur-Sultan.

In Damascus, and discussed "the next round of talks and the importance of lasting communication between and for continued cooperation", the presidency said in a statement.

Both countries are facing a flurry of sanctions by Western nations including the United States, with this month designating Iran's elite a terrorist organisation.

is in the grips of a growing fuel crisis that it blames on these sanctions.

and Assad accused Western countries headed by the of "launching wars and economic terrorism against anyone who did not agree with them" in regional matters, the presidency said.

Earlier on Tuesday, Zarif met his Syrian counterpart

After the meeting, Muallem told journalists Iran, and would be focusing on the jihadist-held in northwestern Syria, said.

The region on the border with is held by Syria's former affiliate, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, and is in theory protected from a massive regime offensive by a Russia-Turkey deal.

The September accord aimed to set up a buffer zone around Idlib, but was never fully implemented as jihadists refused to withdraw from it.

"The Astana guarantors... need to abide by the commitments linked to the Idlib file," including "disarming terrorists groups and them leaving Idlib", Muallem said, according to

Regime forces have continued to bombard Idlib despite the deal, increasingly so in recent weeks.

Zarif is expected to visit Turkey after Damascus.

Endless rounds of UN-backed peace talks have failed to stem the bloodshed, and Iran, and Turkey have sponsored the parallel Astana negotiations track since early 2017.

has provided steady political, financial and military backing to Assad throughout the war, which has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since 2011.

The Syrian regime has made a military comeback with Russian military support since 2015, and now holds almost two-thirds of the country.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, April 16 2019. 21:35 IST