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Russian, Turkish and Iranian Leaders Meet in Ankara, Discuss Syria, Regional Issues

Sept. 16, 2019 (EIRNS)—Today in Ankara, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met as guarantors of the “Astana format” to address the Syrian situation, and also other pressing regional issues. Each head of state also held separate bilateral meetings with each of his two counterparts.

In his opening remarks to the meeting, President Vladimir Putin emphasized that this trilateral format has made it possible to stabilize the Syrian situation, reduce the level of violence, and “lay the foundation for durable and lasting political and diplomatic settlement” based on UN Security Council resolution 2254. He said, however, that the “uncompromising struggle” against terrorist groups must continue, in Idlib for example, where terrorist organizations have recently stepped up their activities, according to the transcript on the Kremlin website.

Putin expressed the hope, too, that the international community, especially the UN and affiliated agencies, will become more active in providing humanitarian assistance to Syria, as it rebuilds its destroyed infrastructure—i.e., water, electricity, schools, and hospitals. He hailed the return of 390,000 Syrian refugees, and 1.3 million internally-displaced persons, to their homes since July 2018.

A 14-point joint statement produced at the end of the meeting affirms in general terms agreement on the need to combat terrorism, and commitment to a “Syrian-led and Syrian-owned, UN-facilitated political process” to resolve the Syrian conflict. There can be no military solution to the Syrian conflict, it states. The leaders expressed great concern over the situation in northeast Syria, which includes Idlib, and stated that security in this area should be based exclusively on preserving Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

“We consider it unacceptable to divide Syria into spheres of influence,” it stated.

Clearly, stickier issues, particularly related to Turkey’s operations in northeastern Syria, and on its Syrian border, were not touched on publicly.

TASS published a detailed report on the bilateral meeting between Putin and Rouhani, in which they touched on bilateral and regional issues. Rouhani commented,

“I think that in the current important historic moment, our work with Russia, one of the key members of the UN, in the present conditions, when the Americans are showing signs of hegemony, for example, in the sphere of seafaring in the region, undermining international norms—our contacts and our work are very important.”

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