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Zarif Says Iran Will Work to Enhance Economic Cooperation With Syria Amid Looming US Sanctions

© REUTERS / TURKISH FOREIGN MINISTRYIranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif attends a news conference in Istanbul, Turkey June 15, 2020
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif attends a news conference in Istanbul, Turkey June 15, 2020 - Sputnik International
In late December, US President Donald Trump signed the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act. The document, which sanctions almost all Syrian economic and trade activities, as well as the country’s government officials, is due to come into force in mid-June.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told Sputnik on Tuesday that Tehran would work to strengthen economic cooperation with Syria amid looming sanctions under the US Caesar Act.

"We have strong economic relationships with Syria, and as for the latter, [it has] a credit line in Iran. We and our friends will work to develop the economic situation in Syria and enhance economic cooperation between Iran and Syria", Zarif pointed out, when asked about the Caesar Act.

The Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act, signed into law by US President Donald Trump in December 2019, is due to come into effect on Wednesday. The document stipulates sanctioning almost all Syrian economic and trade activities, as well as government officials.

Zarif also expressed Iran’s alarm over US attempts to increase pressure on Syria, accusing Washington of doing its best to destabilise the region.

“We are concerned about certain political, economic developments in Syria, the attempts by the United States to impose further pressure, economic pressure […] on Syria. It is taking toll on the Syrian people. We should make sure that the United States, [which] has done everything to destabilize our region and Syria, would not achieve its objectives”, he emphasised.

The statement was made ahead of the Iranian Foreign Minister’s talks with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov scheduled for later today in Moscow.

Trump Renews US Sanctions Against Syria Over Ongoing Conflict

Zarif's statement comes after POTUS in early May announced that he is renewing US sanctions against Syria due to the ongoing conflict in the Middle Eastern country.

"I have determined that it is necessary to continue in effect the national emergency declared with respect to this threat and to maintain in force the sanctions to address this national emergency", Trump said in a letter to House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The US president also called on the Syrian government to end the war in the country and condemned Russia and Iran for what he described as support for Syrian President Bashar Assad. Russia and Iran act as the ceasefire guarantors in war-torn Syria. Moscow carries out humanitarian operations across the Middle Eastern country on a regular basis and helps Damascus in providing safe passage for the return of Syrian refugees.

American troops, jointly with the Arab-Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces, maintain control over a part of northeastern Syria as the US-led coalition of more than 60 nations has been carrying out airstrikes and other operations against terrorists in Syria since September 2014. The coalition operates in Syria without the approval of the Assad government or any UN Security Council authorisation.

Damascus, in turn, sees the US presence on Syrian soil as a violation of national sovereignty and an attempt to seize the country's natural resources.

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