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Iran to submit Syria peace plan to U.N.
Published in Albawaba on 06 - 08 - 2015

Iran said Wednesday it will submit a new peace plan for war-ravaged Syria to the United Nations on the back of an international shift in favor of a political settlement.
Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said the plan, drafted after "detailed consultations" between Damascus and Tehran, was an amended version of an Iranian initiative presented last year.
The new proposals to be submitted to U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon amount to "one of the most effective and serious plans on the agenda of the United Nations and international players," Amir-Abdollahian told the Beirut-based Al-Mayedeen television channel, which supports the Syrian regime.
Amir-Abdollahian, whose country is a key ally of Syria's embattled President Bashar Assad, did not provide details.
But the channel said it was a four-point initiative calling for an immediate cease-fire, the formation of a national unity government, constitutional amendments on minority rights and elections to be held under international supervision.
Amir-Abdollahian said there had been "a strategic change in the attitude of the regional players with regard to Syria.
"If four years ago, many of the foreign players considered resorting to war as the solution for Syria, right now many of the players consider resorting to and focusing on a political solution as the most appropriate way to solve the Syrian crisis," he said.
The Iranian announcement coincided with visits to Tehran by Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem and Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov of Russia, another ally of the Damascus regime in its conflict against insurgents.
The Interfax news agency quoted the Russian Foreign Ministry as saying Wednesday that a delegation of the main opposition group, the Syrian National Coalition, has been invited to visit Moscow next week.
Coalition leader Badr Jamus told the Russian state news agency Sputnik that it welcomed the invitation and will work out specifics of the visit shortly.
The coalition has previously refused to visit Russia, a key backer of Assad. Moscow has shielded Assad's regime from U.N. sanctions and provided it with weapons during a civil war that has dragged on for more than four years, leaving at least 250,000 killed and turning more than 4 million people into refugees.
Since the year's start, Russia has hosted two rounds of talks between Syrian government and various opposition groups which have failed to score any visible progress.
Moscow's move follows Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's meeting in Qatar with the coalition's ex-leader, Moaz al-Khatib. Lavrov also met in Doha with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir for talks focusing on the situation in Syria and efforts to combat ISIS.
Speaking after the talks, Lavrov dismissed the allegations that Russia could be preparing to shift its support for Assad as he called for dialogue between opposition groups and Assad's government.
He also warned the U.S. against launching air raids on Syrian regime forces to support U.S.-trained opposition groups, saying it could make it more difficult to fight terrorism.
He added that Russian and U.S. experts will keep working to try to iron out differences.
Lavrov has said earlier this week that Russian diplomatic efforts to help end the Syrian conflict stem from President Vladimir Putin's diplomatic initiative he put forward during a meeting with Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman in St. Petersburg in June. The prince is King Salman's youngest son, who has quickly risen to become one of the most powerful men in the kingdom.
Lavrov said Putin's initiative offers to "form a joint anti-terror front that would unite efforts of all forces fighting terrorism on the ground, as well as countries that could help that struggle."
"All recognize that airstrikes aren't enough, and it's necessary to form a coalition that would include those confronting the terror threat with arms in hands, meaning the Syrian army, the Iraqi army and the Kurds," he said.

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