Russia, Turkey, Iran fail to agree on Syria de-escalation zones



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    ASTANA, July 5 (Reuters) - Russia, Turkey and Iran failed in
talks on Wednesday to finalise an agreement on creating four
de-escalation zones in Syria after Ankara raised objections,
diplomats said.
    Russia and Iran, which back President Bashar Assad's
government, and Turkey, which supports some of the rebels, aim
to reach a consensus on the zones by the end of August, when
their delegations are set to meet again in the Kazakh capital.
    The failure is a setback for Moscow, the main architect of
the plan, as it seeks to take the lead in global efforts to
settle the Syrian civil war.
    "During these consultations the Turkish side said it needed
more time in order ... to make an appropriate decision," said
senior Russian negotiator Alexander Lavrentyev.
    Bashar al-Ja'afari, the lead negotiator from the Damascus
government, was more direct.
    "The Turkish delegation objected to the adoption of any
documents related to the implementation of mechanisms of the
agreement on the de-escalation zones," he said.
    Russia, Turkey and Iran have set up a working group to
reconcile their positions before the next Astana meeting set for
the final week of August.
    Lavrentyev said details related to the southern
de-escalation zone needed to be agreed with the United States
and Jordan, who support the rebels based there.
    Turkish delegates made no statement to the media after the
    The Kazakh talks, which began in January, come at a time
when Turkey and Russia each want to disentangle themselves from
the fighting. This has led them into an ad-hoc alliance, though
they still trade barbs.
    Since the May agreement was announced, the rebel-held
stronghold of Idlib province in the northwest of Syria has been
mostly calm.
    But fighting has continued on other frontlines in western
Syria, including Eastern Ghouta of Damascus and the southwestern
city of Deraa, where government forces and their allies are
trying to crush remaining pockets of rebellion.
    If the agreement on de-escalation zones is finalised,
Russia, Iran and Turkey will be able to quickly - within weeks -
deploy forces such as military police on the borders of those
zones, Lavrentyev has said.

 (Reporting by Raushan Nurshayeva; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov;
Editing by Dmitry Solovyov and Gareth Jones)
 ((; +7 727 2508 500; Reuters


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