Erdoğan holds bilateral meetings with Merkel, Putin, Macron ahead of Istanbul summit on Syria

DAILY SABAH WITH AGENCIES
ISTANBUL
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From right: President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and Russian President Vladimir Putin speak ahead of a summit on Syria, at the Vahdettin Pavilion in Istanbul, on Oct. 27, 2018. (AA Photo)
From right: President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and Russian President Vladimir Putin speak ahead of a summit on Syria, at the Vahdettin Pavilion in Istanbul, on Oct. 27, 2018. (AA Photo)

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan met German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday in Istanbul ahead of the crucial summit on Syria, which will also be attended by French President Emmanuel Macron.

Merkel arrived in Istanbul on mid-Saturday for the summit and greeted by Istanbul Governor Vasip Şahin and Metropolitan Mayor Mevlüt Uysal. She later arrived in the Vahdettin Pavilion overlooking the Bosporus in Asian neighborhood of Çengelköy in Üsküdar district.

Shortly after, Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President Emmanuel Macron arrived in Istanbul Atatürk Airport.



Erdoğan and Merkel posed for the press and proceeded with their meeting, which lasted for about thirty minutes, attended by Turkish and German delegations, which included Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak and Defense Minister Hulusi Akar,



Erdoğan later met with Putin, who was accompanied by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu. Lavrov and Shoigu also held bilateral talks with their Turkish counterparts Çavuşoğlu and Akar prior to the meetings of Turkish and Russian presidents. The meeting lasted around 45 minutes.

Macron was the last leader that Erdoğan hold bilateral meetings with before proceeding with the summit. The meeting between the two presidents lasted about 30 minutes.



During the summit, the participants will comprehensively discuss the Syrian conflict, focusing on the situation on the ground, the political process, and ways to harmonize joint efforts to find a lasting solution. Staffan de Mistura, the U.N. special Syria envoy, will also be present.

The leaders will also discuss the Sept. 17 agreement between Ankara and Moscow to establish a demilitarized zone in Syria's northwestern province of Idlib.

Under the deal, opposition groups in Idlib are to remain in areas where they are already present, while Russia and Turkey carry out joint patrols in the area to prevent renewed fighting.

On Oct. 10, the Turkish Defense Ministry announced that the Syrian opposition and other anti-regime groups had completed the withdrawal of heavy weapons from the Idlib demilitarized zone.

Syria has only just begun to emerge from a devastating conflict that began in 2011, when the Assad regime cracked down on demonstrators with unexpected ferocity.

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