Iran, Russia, Turkey Presidents Discuss Syria’s Political Process

Presidents of Iran, Russia and Turkey hold a summit on Syria in Sochi on Nov. 22.Presidents of Iran, Russia and Turkey hold a summit on Syria in Sochi on Nov. 22.

The presidents of the three guarantors of Syria peace process convened on Wednesday to discuss efforts to facilitate the political settlement of the lingering conflict in the Arab country.

The summit was held in the Russian city of Sochi, bringing together Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Russian President Vladimir Putin and their Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, IRNA reported.

During the last round of the Astana talks late last month, the trio agreed to discuss proposals for holding a national dialogue congress, which will involve the Syrian government and various opposition groups willing to engage in talks with Damascus.

The Sochi Summit was aimed at following up discussions on the congress, deciding on its participants, date and other details.

  Beginning of Battle

Speaking in the meeting, Rouhani said the victory over terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq is the beginning of an important battle to eliminate problems giving rise to the spread of terrorism, namely discrimination, poverty and violence.

"This great fight can be won only through cooperation among responsible governments and nations," he said. Putin said "Russia, Iran and Turkey have prevented a breakup of Syria, kept it from being overrun by international terrorists and warded off a humanitarian catastrophe."

He expressed hope that agreements that the three countries could reach at the summit would help "strengthen the territorial integrity of Syria."

Earlier on Wednesday, Rouhani said it was crucial that the trilateral meeting provides a platform to find ways of reconciling the Syrian government and opposition groups.

"It is important that consultations are held in this summit about the congress, which should turn out to be in the Syrian people's interests eventually," Tasnim News Agency quoted Rouhani as saying, before he departed from Tehran for the Russian city.

Before the summit, Rouhani held separate talks with Putin and Erdogan. The Wednesday event was preceded by a meeting on Sunday in Turkey's Antalya between the three countries' foreign ministers.

The Sochi meeting came a week before UN-led peace talks are to resume in Geneva.

  Dialogue-Based Solution

The summit came three days after Syrian forces managed to capture the eastern city of Abu Kamal, driving out the terrorist group from its last urban stronghold in Syria.

Two days before that, Iraqi troops retook Rawa, the last remaining Iraqi town under IS control.

The liberation of the two cities effectively marked an end to the self-proclaimed "IS caliphate" established in 2014, after the Syria-based terrorist group captured large swathes of Iraq in a lightning offensive.

The end of IS, along with a significant drop in violence in the Arab country thanks to a Dec. 2016 ceasefire, has raised hopes that a dialogue-based solution to the conflict will be soon in sight.

The ceasefire was brokered by the trio, after the liberation of Aleppo knocked the final nail in the coffin of regime change dreams, which had fueled the devastating fighting in Syria, killing hundreds of thousands and displacing millions.

The three countries later launched the peace talks in Kazakhstan's capital of Astana, which have led to agreements to set up four "de-escalation zones" in Syria.


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