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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

Iran plans Syria meet with Russia, Turkey

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TEHRAN: Iran is planning to host a tripartite summit on Syria in early September with the presidents of Russia and Turkey, the Iranian Foreign Ministry announced on Monday.


“It will be an important summit,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghassemi told Iranian news agency Tasnim, without giving further details.


Ghassemi said he would announce the exact date of the summit soon.


Although there has been no clear indication of Iran’s future role in Syria, Ghassemi did not rule out a full withdrawal from Syria.


“As soon as we feel that Syria is approaching stability, we too can definitely reduce our military consultations — or withdraw altogether,” the spokesman said earlier this month.


Meanwhile, Russia said it will help Lebanon return refugees to neighbouring Syria, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday, accusing the United States of impeding the general repatriation process by declining to assist in Syria’s reconstruction.


Lavrov also called on opposition groups in the rebel-held Syrian province of Idlib to distance themselves from the Nusra Front group, formerly the local branch of Al Qaeda.


The province was hit by a wave of air strikes and shelling earlier this month, in a possible prelude to a government offensive to regain control.


“We agreed that Lebanon should not be the subject of foreign interference, a pawn in geopolitical games, or a hostage of the Syrian crisis and its negative consequences such as the problem of Syrian refugees,” Lavrov said after talks with his visiting Lebanese counterpart, Gebran Bassil.


According to the UN’s refugee agency, nearly 5.5 million Syrians have fled abroad to escape war. Lebanon hosts more than a million Syrian refugees, equal to more than a quarter of its population, Bassil told reporters.


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