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Russia Planning Syria Summit With Iran, Turkey

Russia Planning Syria Summit With Iran, TurkeyRussia Planning Syria Summit With Iran, Turkey

Russia’s top diplomat said Moscow is preparing for a new round of a summit meeting on Syria with Turkish and Iranian presidents.
The leaders of the three countries had earlier met in trilateral summit meetings in Russia’s Sochi, Ankara, and Tehran.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov announced the proposal during a meeting on Wednesday with Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal and Iranian foreign minister’s special assistant for political affairs, Hossein Jaberi Ansari, who represents Tehran in international consultations on the Syrian issue.
“The Astana format is the most objective structure for moving forward on all tracks to overcome the Syrian crisis,” Lavrov was quoted as saying by Anadolu Agency.
Lavrov was referring to a peace initiative known as the Astana process—a tripartite effort to secure peace and stability in Syria—which began in 2017. It was brokered by Turkey, Russia, and Iran.  
On Saturday, the leaders of Turkey, Germany, France, and Russia are set to meet in Istanbul in a quadrilateral summit to discuss Syrian refugees and the situation in Idlib, a flashpoint of insurgency.

> Moscow Discussions

In a related development, senior diplomats from Iran, Russia, and Turkey, which act as guarantors of a Syrian ceasefire, held consultations in Moscow on Tuesday amid efforts to find a political solution to the protracted crisis gripping the Arab country.   
The meeting was held within the Astana format. The Kazakh capital has been hosting talks since January 2017 between the Syrian government and opposition, with the guarantor states in attendance as mediators.
“We aim to use the consultations in this format to ‘synchronize our watches’ and to consider the situation on the ground and around Syria,” said Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin, TASS news agency reported.
The discussions are meant to help “continue our successful cooperation in the Astana format”, he added.
Participants in the Moscow gathering decided that the next top-level meeting in the format would take place in Astana in November.
In late 2016, the trio began cooperating toward ending violence in Syria that has been suffering from foreign-backed militancy for the past seven years.
Tehran and Moscow back Damascus, while Turkey sides with armed groups fighting against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The talks in Moscow came as eyes are now set on the province of Idlib in northwestern Syria, the last major stronghold for militants.
Moscow and Ankara have devised a plan for the creation of a buffer zone inside the province.
The plan, aimed at disarming the militants and driving them out of the de-escalation area, has put an all-out Syrian counter-terrorism operation targeting the province on hold.
Damascus, however, has insisted that the plan is only “temporary”, and that the province has to ultimately fall back under government control.

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