Russia says will host trilateral leaders' summit with Turkey, Iran in early 2019

DAILY SABAH WITH AGENCIES
ISTANBUL
Published 28.12.2018 12:45
Updated 28.12.2018 18:02
emEPA Photo/em
EPA Photo

Turkey, Russia and Iran, the three guarantors of the Astana Process, will discuss the Syrian conflict at a meeting early next year in Moscow, Russia's deputy foreign minister said Friday.

"It's our turn to host the summit ... around the first week of the year. This will depend on the schedules of the presidents," Mikhail Bogdanov told the Interfax news agency.

The meeting will be the latest step in the Astana peace process, set up in early 2017 by Russia and Iran, the main supporters of the Bashar Assad regime, and the moderate opposition backer, Turkey.

The last meeting between the three leaders, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, took place in Tehran in September, with the fate of the rebel-held Idlib province dominating the agenda.

In a statement following the meeting in Tehran, the parties said: "There can be no military solution to the Syrian conflict, and it can only end through a negotiated political process."

They also "emphasized strong and continued the commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Syria, as well as to the purposes and principles of the U.N. Charter and highlighted that they should be respected by all."

The statement said the leaders "rejected all attempts to create new realities on the ground under the pretext of combating terrorism," while expressing determination to stand against separatist agendas aimed at "undermining the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria and national security of neighboring countries."

In the second meeting in Ankara, the leaders had "emphasized their strong and continued commitment to Syria's sovereignty, independence, unity, territorial integrity and nonsectarian character."

In a statement after the Ankara summit, the leaders had agreed to continue cooperation in order to "ultimately eliminate" Daesh, the Nusra Front and all other individuals, groups, undertakings and entities associated with al-Qaida or Daesh.

The leaders had underlined, in the fight against terrorism, that separating terrorist groups from armed opposition groups that had joined or would join the cease-fire regime carries utmost importance for preventing civilian casualties.

In an effort to contribute to the efforts to end the ongoing Syrian conflict, Turkey, Iran and Russia launched the process in the Kazakh capital Astana. Last year, the three guarantor countries agreed in Astana to establish de-escalation zones in the northern province of Idlib and parts of neighboring Latakia, Hama and Aleppo.

Under the Astana agreement, Turkey established 12 observation points from Idlib's north to south aiming to monitor and sustain the current cease-fire agreement for the de-escalation zones, deliver humanitarian aid and ensure the secure return of displaced people.

The first trilateral summit at the presidential level was held last year in Russia's Black Sea city Sochi on Nov. 22. Backed by Turkey, Russia and Iran, a summit was then held in Sochi on Jan. 29-30. It was an attempt to bring all warring parties in the Syrian conflict, excluding the terrorist groups, to the table to facilitate the U.N.-sponsored peace talks in Geneva.

The guarantors have said that the Astana process is not an alternative but a complementary initiative to the U.N.-brokered Geneva talks.

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