SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) – A tripartite summit on Wednesday between leaders of Russia, Iran and Turkey could take decisive steps to end the bloodshed in Syria, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said at the start of his talks. conversations.
The summit, organized by Russian President Vladimir Putin, is a rare occasion that brings together the leaders of Russia and Iran, who support the president of Syria, Bashar al-Assad, at a table with Erdogan, who has supported the opponents of Assad.
In opening remarks at the summit in the Russian resort of Sochi, Putin, Erdogan and Iran's President Hbadan Rouhani spoke of an opening for peace in Syria now that the Islamic State has been expelled from its last major bastion there .
"The point we have reached is important, but not enough," Erdogan told the meeting, which was also attended by military commanders and foreign ministers from the three countries.
"It is fundamental for all parties to contribute to a permanent and acceptable political solution for the people of Syria," he said. "This summit points to results, I believe that critical decisions will be made."
As a prelude to the summit, Putin earlier this week received Assad at his residence in Sochi. It was the only time it is known that the Syrian leader left Syria since his last visit to Russia, two years ago.
Putin also made phone calls in the last 24 hours to other leaders with influence in Syria, including US President Donald Trump and King Salman of Saudi Arabia, as part of the Moscow campaign to build an international consensus on an agreement of peace to end the six year conflict
"A NEW STAGE"
"We can say with certainty that we have reached a new stage, opening the possibility of launching a real political process towards a peace agreement," Putin said. the meeting.
"Concessions and concessions will be needed everywhere … including (from) the Syrian government," Putin said.
He said that the focus of peace efforts should be the convening of a congress that brings together all the ethnic groups of Syria.
Russia has offered to host such a congress in Sochi, but attempts to agree on a date have so far failed, partly because Turkey raised objections to the presence of some Kurdish groups.
Rouhani of Iran used his comments at the summit to protest the presence of foreign forces in Syria, an apparent reference to the United States and Tehran's rival arch rival, Saudi Arabia, which together with Turkey have backed the enemies of Assad.
"There is no excuse for the presence of foreign troops in Syria without the approval of their legitimate government," Rouhani said.
"The Syrian nation will not allow any interference from foreigners in its affairs of state and will face any movement that damages the integrity, independence and unity of Syria," he said.
Iran's army is also present in Syria, along with Russian troops and Hezbollah, the Lebanese pro-Iran militia. They say that this does not amount to foreign interference because they are in Syria at the invitation of Assad.
Additional reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu and Parisa Hafezi in ANKARA; Written by Christian Lowe; Edition by Gareth Jones