ANKARA: Russian President Vladimir Putin will next week host Turkish and Iranian counterparts Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Hassan Rouhani for summit talks on Syria, officials from Turkey and Russia said Thursday.
With the violence in Syria diminishing but still no political solution in sight, the three presidents will meet at Putin’s official residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on November 22.
The meeting —the first such three-way summit between the trio —comes as Ankara, Moscow and Tehran cooperate with increasing intensity on ending the more than six-year civil war in Syria.
They are sponsoring peace talks in Kazakh capital Astana and also implementing a plan for de-escalation zones in key flashpoint areas of Syria.
Turkey’s presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said that the three leaders would discuss progress in reducing the violence in Syria and ensuring humanitarian aid goes to those in need.
Describing Iran, Russia and Turkey as the three “guarantor” countries, he said the talks would look at what they could do for a lasting political solution in Syria.
Confirming the summit, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said it was just these three countries who were the “guarantors of the process of political settlement and stability and security that we see now in Syria”.
There was no immediate comment from Tehran.
‘Six meetings in one year’
The cooperation comes despite Turkey still officially being on an opposite side of the Syria conflict from Russia and Iran.
Russia, along with Iran, is the key backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Moscow’s military intervention inside Syria is widely seen as tipping the balance in the conflict.
Turkey, however, has backed the rebels seeking Assad’s ouster in a conflict that has left more than 330,000 dead.
But Russia and Turkey have been working together since a 2016 reconciliation deal ended a crisis caused by the shooting down of a Russian war plane over Syria.
In recent months, Turkey has markedly toned down its criticism of the Assad regime and focused on opposing Syrian Kurdish militia seen by Ankara as a terror group.
According to the Anadolu news agency, Putin and Erdogan have already met five times this year and spoken by telephone 13 times.
Erdogan last met Putin for talks in Sochi only days ago on November 13, agreeing on the need to boost elements for a lasting settlement.
Turkey earlier this month said Russia had decided to postpone a planned Syria peace conference with all parties after Ankara objected to the potential inclusion of Kurdish forces.
Moscow denied this was the case, saying a date for the conference had never been set. Peskov told reporters in Moscow that the date for the “Congress of Syrian National Dialogue” had still yet to be fixed.