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Iran’s FM Zarif meets Assad in Damascus ahead of Kazakhstan talks on Syria

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was in Damascus on Tuesday ahead of a fresh round of talks next week in Kazakhstan aimed at ending Syria’s eight-year civil war, AFP reported. Iran, Russia and Turkey have sponsored the Astana negotiations track to end the conflict. Kazakhstan is to host a fresh round of talks on April 25-26 in its capital, last month renamed from Astana to Nursultan. President Bashar Assad and Zarif discussed in Damascus “the next round of Astana talks and the importance of lasting communication between Damascus and Tehran for continued cooperation,” according to the presidency. Zarif met his Syrian counterpart Walid Muallem earlier in the day. Muallem told reporters that Iran, Russia and Turkey would be focusing on the jihadist-held bastion of Idlib in northwestern Syria.