Putin, Erdogan In Tehran for High Stakes Syria Summit

TEHRAN — Leaders of Russia, Turkey and Iran on Friday discussed a step-by-step “stabilisation” in Syria’s Idlib, with a possibility of peace with some rebel groups, Russian President Vladimir Putin said after the talks.

“We have discussed concrete measures regarding a phased stabilisation in the Idlib de-escalation zone, which stipulate… a possibility of making peace for those ready for dialogue,” Putin said after the summit in Tehran to discuss the fate of Syria’s last rebel bastion.

Putin said that Russia hopes that its “call for peace in Idlib zone as well will be heard… we will strive for peace among all warring sides, and we have never factored in terrorist organisations.”

“We hope that representatives of terrorist organisations will have enough common sense to stop resistance and lay down (their) weapons,” Putin said.

Turkey seems to have prevailed during talks, convincing the other parties that a major offensive in Syria’s Idlib province would not be the wisest move at the moment.

At Erdogan’s suggestion, the final communique of the summit was amended to include a call for all armed groups in Idlib to lay down arms and seek a political transition in the country.

Putin and Rouhani agreed, which may indicate that a major offensive in Idlib is not likely to be launched in the immediate future, unless some major development happens on the ground.

The Russian president remarked that the call is addressed to all armed groups in the Syrian province, including UN-designated terrorist groups.

“Let us hope that the members of the terrorist organizations would have enough sense to stop resistance and lay down weapons,” he said.

“Our agreements on Syria were always based on a premise that we are seeking to ensure peace between all belligerents, but kept the terrorist organizations bracketed out,” he remarked.

A joint statement released after the summit said, there could be no military solution to the Syrian conflict and it can only end through a negotiated political process.

Joint statement asked rebels in their beseigned last stronghold of Idlib to lay down arms and allow political transition in the war ravaged Syria.

“[They] reaffirmed their determination to continue active cooperation with a view to advancing the political process consistent with the decisions of the Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Sochi and the UN Security Council Resolution 2254.”

Iran, Turkey and Russia “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 UN Charter and highlighted that they should be respected by all.”

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.”

The joint statement said the leaders highlighted the “need to create conditions for the safe and voluntary return of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) to their original places of residence in Syria.”

Russia, Iran, and Turkey also called for the United Nations and its humanitarian agencies to help Syria by providing additional humanitarian aid.

The joint statement also welcomed the progress in the work of the Working Group on the release of detainees and abductees, and handover of the bodies as well as the identification of the missing persons, as undertaken with the participation of the UN and ICRC experts.

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