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‘Iran ready to cooperate with other states in Syria’s reconstruction’

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif calls the establishment of a ceasefire in Syria a top priority in efforts to end the crisis there, saying Iran is ready for cooperation with other states to help reconstruct the violence-torn Arab country.

According to Press TV, speaking at an international conference on Syria in Brussels on Wednesday, Zarif said Iran has already begun its cooperation with Syria in rebuilding the country and is ready to interact with other countries in this area.

Senior representatives from 80 countries attended the two-day conference co-hosted by EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini and UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura.

Zarif further described aid delivery to Syrian civilians as a matter of great urgency, saying if relief operations take place without preconditions and political motives, not only will they improve the conditions of the displaced, but will also facilitate efforts to achieve peaceful solutions to the conflict.

According to the EU, nearly 6.1 Syrian are currently internally displaced, over five million have fled the country and 13 million others are in need of assistance.

UN children’s agency UNICEF said nearly 2.8 million Syrian children had stopped their education, warning that going to school in some parts of Syria “has at times become a matter of life and death.”

The Iranian foreign minister also pointed to the joint efforts by Iran, Russia and Turkey to broker dialog between Syria’s conflicting sides, saying the three sides are working to further expand the four de-escalation zones created in Syria as part of the ongoing peace process in Astana, Kazakhstan.

The talks in Astana have been going on in tandem with another series of talks held in Geneva and brokered by the UN. Previous rounds of negotiations under the auspices of the UN over the past five years have failed to achieve tangible results.

Zarif further said the Astana peace process is based on the understanding that the Syria crisis can only be resolved within the framework of a comprehensive political process led by the Syrian people and with complete respect for the sovereignty, national integrity and independence of the Arab country.

The Iranian foreign minister pointed to a recent suspected chemical attack in the Syrian town of Douma, near Damascus, saying Iran, as a country extensively harmed by chemical attacks in 1980s, condemns such attacks by any party under any circumstances.