Russia, Iran, Turkey cast as dealmakers
Russia, Turkey and Iran cast themselves as the essential dealmakers in Syria on Tuesday, saying at a meeting in Moscow that their cooperation could pave the way for a future settlement in Syria.
The meeting of foreign and defense ministers reflected a shared interest in brokering a compromise.
The talks come a day after the assassination of Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrey Karlov, but Moscow and Ankara vowed that the attack wouldn’t hurt their rapprochement. A chartered flight carrying the body of Karlov landed in Moscow on Tuesday.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said after the talks that the three nations believe their efforts could overcome the “stagnation” in the Syrian peace process.
“The format you see today is the most efficient one,” Lavrov said. “It’s not an attempt to cast a shadow on the efforts taken by our other partners, it’s just stating the facts.”
He cited the evacuation of civilians and rebels from Aleppo, brokered by Moscow and Ankara, as proof of the efficiency of the trilateral cooper- ation. “More than any others, our states are ready to help the settlement with real deeds and not just words,” he said.
Lavrov added that it would take one or two days to complete the evacuations.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said 37,500 people had been evacuated from Aleppo, crediting Russia with making it possible.
Cavusoglu said they talked about establishing a ceasefire across the entire territory of Syria, adding that the Islamic State group and al-Qaida’s branch in Syria, the Fatah al-Sham Front, would be excluded from the deal.
The United States was notably absent from the meeting, although Lavrov had a phone call with US Secretary of State John Kerry later on Tuesday.
Washington on Tuesday sought to downplay its absence from the talks. A spokesman for Kerry dismissed suggestions that Washington’s absence from the meeting indicated a change in influence.
“The secretary doesn’t see this as a snub at all. He sees it as another multilateral effort to try to get a lasting peace in Syria and he welcomes any progress toward that,” John Kirby said.
The flag-wrapped coffin of Russia’s Ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov was delivered to Moscow on a charter flight.