International negotiations on Syrian crisis open in Austrian capital
A fresh round of international talks aimed at resolving the ongoing crisis in Syria has started in the Austrian capital city of Vienna, with representatives from the Islamic Republic of Iran attending the conference.
Apart from the Islamic Republic, the United States, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, representatives from at least 12 other countries are also attending the talks. Those states are France, Germany, Egypt, Russia, Jordan, the UK, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Iraq, Lebanon, China and Oman.
Envoys from the United Nations (UN) and the European Union (EU) are also present at the talks.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif heads Iran’s delegation during the one-day talks.
Past failure without Iran
Previous talks on Syria, mediated by the UN and dubbed Geneva I and II, failed to find a solution to end the conflict in the Arab country. Iran had not been invited to any of the talks.
The two conferences ended in failure after the foreign-sponsored opposition figures in the talks refused to discuss widespread terrorism in the country and persisted in demanding the ouster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as a precondition.
The foreign-sponsored conflict in Syria, which flared in March 2011, has claimed the lives of more than 250,000 people and left over one million injured, according to UN.
The world body says 12.2 million people, including more than 5.6 million children, remain in need of humanitarian assistance.
The foreign-sponsored militancy has displaced 7.6 million people.
Zarif and his US and Russian counterparts, John Kerry and Sergei Lavrov, met in Vienna on Thursday evening ahead of the negotiations.
The Iranian foreign minister also met EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini. Their talks focused both on the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) reached between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program as well as regional issues.
(This item is being updated.)