Sun Feb 19, 2017 2:22PM
The Chinese special envoy for Syria, Xie Xiaoyan
The Chinese special envoy for Syria, Xie Xiaoyan

Special envoy of Chinese government on Syria, Xie Xiaoyan, is to pay an official visit to Iran to hold talks with senior Iranian officials on ways to settle the nearly six-year crisis in the Arab country.

The Chinese diplomat is expected to arrive in Tehran on Tuesday.

Xie visited Tehran in April 2016 and held talks with former Iranian deputy foreign minister for Arab and African affairs, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.

During their meeting, the two sides warned against any foreign intervention in Syria and stressed that the future of the war-hit country must be decided only by its people.

"No foreign power must interfere in issues related to Syria's future. We must allow the Syrian people to decide for themselves about writing a new constitution and choosing a president," the Chinese envoy said.

Xie’s upcoming visit to Iran will come a few days after delegates from the Syrian government and opposition groups attended a fresh round of peace negotiations in Astana, Kazakhstan, in a new phase of a diplomatic process mediated by Iran, Russia and Turkey.

Representatives of the Syrian government and the opposition groups along with other attendees take part in the second session of Syria peace talks at the Rixos President Hotel in Astana, Kazakhstan, on February 16, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Thursday’s discussions, which were held behind closed doors, have been viewed as a warm-up to a separate round of UN-led talks on the Syria crisis slated to be held in the Swiss city of Geneva on February 23.

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Since March 2011, Syria has been gripped by a militancy it blames on some Western states and their regional allies.

UN special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, estimated in August last year that more than 400,000 people had been killed in the crisis until then. The UN stopped its official casualty count in the war-torn country, citing its inability to verify the figures it receives from various sources.