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Iranian, Syrian Foreign Ministers Discuss Prospects for Expanding Bilateral Ties

By Nigar Bayramli January 16, 2023

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Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian has discussed bilateral relations and regional developments with his Syrian counterpart Faisal Mekdad during a visit to Damascus, on January 14, 2022. / MFA.gov.ir

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian has discussed bilateral relations and regional developments with his Syrian counterpart Faisal Mekdad during a recent visit to Damascus.

“The finalisation and signing of the comprehensive long-term cooperation deal between the two countries can act as a road map for long-term cooperation between the two countries”, the official website of the Iranian Foreign Ministry quoted Amir-Abdollahian as saying, on January 14.

The Iranian diplomat highlighted the need to increase joint efforts to lay the groundwork to achieve the best results from the upcoming visit of President Ebrahim Raisi to Syria.

For his turn, the Syrian foreign minister said that Syria was preparing the required documents to strengthen relations between the two countries to be signed during Raisi's visit.

Following the meeting with his counterpart, Faisal Mekdad told reporters that “we meet in order to strengthen bilateral relations and to remove any obstacles … in the two brotherly nations”.

He added that the coming days and weeks “would stand testament to the depth of these strategic relations” and the reveal the "strength of faith of both nations in developing them further”.

According to Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Nasser Kanani, Raisi's visit to Syria was planned, however, he did not specify any date.

In a meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on January 14, Amir-Abdollahian said that Tehran considers Syria's security as its own, and will continue its "strong backing" for the country.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran has always stressed a political solution over a war solution; therefore, it welcomes positive developments in Syria's political relations with other countries," the Iranian minister said.

Praising the development of relations between the two countries, Amir-Abdollahian said Iran was ready to formulate and sign a comprehensive plan for long-term, bilateral cooperation.

He also stressed the need to lay the groundwork for Iranian participation in the rebuilding of Syria.

In turn, Al-Assad said Iran was the "closest" country to Syria, and stressed the importance of the Iranian President's upcoming visit to the country.

The meeting follows Syria's Deputy Foreign Minister Ayman Sousan’s visit to Iran on January 8, aimed at discussing the two countries' relations and regional developments. Prior to the Damascus visit, Amir-Abdollahian met with officials and the head of the Iran-backed Hezbollah group, Hassan Nasrallah, in neighboring Lebanon.

The Ankara-Damascus talks also came more than a decade since the two sides severed ties shortly after the start of Syria's civil war.

The foreign ministers of Türkiye, Russia and Syria held their first official talks in Moscow after 11 years on December 28, 2022. The Turkish defence minister and National Intelligence Organisation chief, along with their Russian and Syrian counterparts, discussed the "Syrian crisis, refugee issue and joint efforts to fight all terrorist groups on Syrian territory," according to the Turkish Defence Ministry.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on January 5 that he could meet Syrian President Bashar al-Assad “depending on developments” following an upcoming meeting between the foreign ministers of Türkiye, Russia and Syria.

In a phone conversation on January 11, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Iranian counterpart Ebrahim Raisi also discussed the situation in Syria and other issues.

"When discussing international issues, both sides gave a positive assessment of the established close coordination within the framework of the Astana process, which plays a key role in the Syrian settlement. The intention was expressed to continue cooperation in order to normalise the situation in the Syrian Arab Republic and restore its territorial integrity," according to the Kremlin's press service.