Turkey indicates priorities in Syria before meeting in Sochi

Frederick Owens
November 22, 2017

The meeting of presidents of Turkey, Russia and Iran is important for the future of the region, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, the country's media reported November 21.

Unifying Syria is an extremely hard proposition, with the country now divided between forces loyal to Kremlin-allied strongman Bashar al-Assad, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and several jihadist groups and rebel units. Yesterday's meeting was unannounced and the Kremlin did not make it public until this morning.

Putin and his government have been one of the chief supporters of the Syrian President's government, both militarily and in helping negotiate ceasefires in the country's long-running civil war. This week's visit is the second time Assad ventured outside his war-ravaged nation since the civil war began, both times to Russian Federation.

The first was in October 2015, shortly after Russian Federation launched its military campaign in Syria to shore up Mr Assad's forces.

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On Sunday, the foreign ministers of Iran, Turkey and Russian Federation convened in the Turkish city of Antalya to discuss the outcome of several rounds of expert-level sessions and finalize the agenda of the presidential meeting. Assad was called to Russia to get him to agree to potential peace initiatives drafted by Russia, Iran and Turkey, the Kremlin said.

"Today [on Monday] I am set to hold a conversation with the emir of Qatar, tomorrow [on Tuesday] a talk with US President Donald Trump is expected to take place, and after that, conversations with the leaders of the regional countries will be held", Putin said.

"I'm pleased to see your willingness to work with everyone who wants peace and settlement".

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