Rus­sia, Iran, Tur­key cast as deal­mak­ers

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD - By AGEN­CIES in Moscow

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.

VALERY SHARIFULIN / TASS NEWS AGENCY

The flag-wrapped cof­fin of Rus­sia’s Am­bas­sador to Tur­key An­drei Karlov was de­liv­ered to Moscow on a char­ter flight.

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