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      Iran Involved in Syrian Ceasefire Talks

      Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif involved in Syria ceasefire talks, along with Lebanon, Iraq, and Russia.
      By Dalit Halevy, Tova Dvorin
      First Publish: 1/18/2014, 7:47 PM

      Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif
      Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif
      Reuters

      Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has been involved in talks to bring a ceasefire to Syria - along with Iraq, Lebanon, and Russia. 

      Zarif stated to a press conference held together with Senegal's Foreign Minister Saturday that the ceasefire would be an important step in achieving negotiations, and that the Syrian people should have a say in the direction of a new, unified government. 

      On Friday, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem reportedly offered to negotiate a ceasefire with opposition forces in Aleppo. Aleppo has seen intensified fighting in recent weeks, with regime forces dropping "barrel bombs" on the war-battered city. 

      “Taking into account the role of the Russian Federation in halting the bloodshed in Syria and our relationship of trust, today I have given Minister Lavrov a ceasefire plan for the city of Aleppo,” he said, according to Russia Today.

      Muallem asked Lavrov to coordinate with his contacts in the Syrian opposition in order to ensure the execution of the new plan, adding that if it is successful it could be implemented in other areas of the war-torn country.

      “I really hope all sides will keep to the terms of the agreement. If this happens, then we can implement this plan in other cities,” he said.

      Zarif said that Iran, for its part, is pushing a proposal that includes four steps to resolve the Syria conflict. While he declined to elaborate, Zarif did say that the solution should steer clear of more military action, and focus on elections, fighting extremism, and unification.

      The proposal itself allegedly is still under development, but Iran is still involved in the current ceasefire talks, and negotiating prisoner exchanges between sides, Zarif stated. Iran has held talks on the issue in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Russia, according to the Foreign Minister. 

      Last month, both Muallem and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon invited Iran to be involved in the Geneva II talks to solve the Syrian crisis, which are set to launch on Monday. 

      Throughout the civil war in Syria, which has killed over 130,000 since 2011, Iran has provided Assad with military support during his fight against the rebels.

      Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad personally sanctioned the dispatch of officers from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards to Syria to fight alongside Assad’s troops.

      An Iranian parliamentarian recently boasted that his country sent “hundreds of battalions” to fight in Syria alongside Assad’s troops.