The defence ministers of Syria, Turkey and Russia met in Moscow after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he had proposed the meeting to Vladimir Putin.
Erdogan proposed earlier this month that ministerial-level meetings among the three nations be held, in order to eventually lead to a trilateral meeting involving himself, Putin, and Syrian President Bashar Al Assad.
Since the beginning of the Syrian war, Turkey and Syria have not had official diplomatic ties. The three-way summit between Sergei Shoigu, Turkey’s Hulusi Akar, and Syria’s Ali Mahmoud Abbas was described as “constructive” by the Turkish state news agency Anadolu.
In their meeting, the three officials discussed “ways to resolve the Syrian crisis, the problem of refugees and joint efforts to combat extremist groups in Syria,” according to the Russian and Turkish defence ministries.
Russia’s defence ministry said that they noted the constructive nature of the dialogue held in this format and the need to continue it in the interests of further stabilising the situation in Syria and the region.
Because of the war and the Assad regime, millions of Syrians fled for refuge in Turkey. The opposition has been dismayed by Turkey’s calls for normalisation of relations with the Assad regime since Turkey has also been hinting at warmer connections with Syria.
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu’s remarks in August on repairing ties with Syria caused protests.
“There will be no permanent peace otherwise,” he warned at the time.
Russia has been mediating between Turkey and Syria, as well as other parties involved in the conflict, in support of the Assad regime. Last month’s terrorist attack in Istanbul resulted in six deaths, prompting Turkey to launch a military operation against Kurdish targets near Syria’s northern border.
The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces denied any responsibility for the attack and called for an international investigation into the incident, which Ankara blamed on Kurdish militants.
Image Credit: Sergey Guneev / Associated Press