Putin, Er­do­gan agree on need to boost ef­forts for Syria peace

Muscat Daily - - REGION -

Sochi, Rus­sia - Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin and his Turk­ish coun­ter­part Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan agreed on Mon­day on the need to boost ef­forts to achieve a last­ing po­lit­i­cal set­tle­ment in Syria.

Dur­ing four hours of talks at the Black Sea re­sort of Sochi, in south­west Rus­sia, the two sides agreed on the need to do more to sta­bilise Syria, Putin said.

“We are united in the need to in­crease ef­forts to en­sure the long-term sta­bil­i­sa­tion (of Syria), above all to ad­vance the process of a po­lit­i­cal set­tle­ment,” the Rus­sian leader said af­ter the meet­ing.

“We agreed that there is now a base which al­lows us to fo­cus on the po­lit­i­cal process,” said Er­do­gan.

The pair last met in Ankara in Septem­ber, when they agreed to push for the cre­ation of a ‘de-es­ca­la­tion’ zone in Syria’s key north­ern prov­ince of Idlib, in ad­di­tion to oth­ers al­ready pro­posed.

Rus­sia, along with Iran, is the key backer of Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Bashar As­sad. Moscow’s mil­i­tary in­ter­ven­tion in Syria is widely seen as tip­ping the bal­ance in the con­flict.

Tur­key, how­ever, has backed the rebels seek­ing As­sad’s ouster

“Our re­la­tion­ship has been re­stored al­most to its full ca­pac­ity,” Putin said ahead of the talks, adding that he was glad to see the Turk­ish leader.

Their ef­forts have helped bring about a de-es­ca­la­tion of vi­o­lence in parts of Syria, though fight­ing con­tin­ues.

Turk­ish For­eign Min­is­ter Mev­lut Cavu­soglu told jour­nal- ists ear­lier that Ankara was seek­ing a po­lit­i­cal so­lu­tion to the cri­sis.

“With­out a cease­fire we can­not talk about a po­lit­i­cal so­lu­tion. Now we have made a lot of achieve­ments and we can pay more at­ten­tion to the po­lit­i­cal process,” he said.

Moscow and Ankara have sup­ported ne­go­ti­a­tions in Kaza­khstan’s cap­i­tal As­tana from the start of the year, which have run par­al­lel to talks tak­ing place in Geneva with the back­ing of the United Na­tions.

Mean­while in Syria, airstrikes that ripped through a mar­ket in a rebel-held town have killed 61 peo­ple, mostly civil­ians, an up­dated toll from a mon­i­tor said on Tues­day.

Three strikes hit the north­ern town of Atareb on Mon­day, the Syr­ian Ob­ser­va­tory for Hu­man Rights said, de­spite a ‘de-es­ca­la­tion zone’ in place there.

“A num­ber of peo­ple died of their wounds, bring­ing the toll to 61 peo­ple, in­clud­ing five chil­dren and three po­lice­men.”

The Bri­tain-based mon­i­tor said it was not clear whether the bomb­ing raids had been car­ried out by Syr­ian gov­ern­ment war­planes, or those of its ally Rus­sia.

A pho­tog­ra­pher saw mas­sive de­struc­tion at the scene on Mon­day, with rub­ble from dam­aged build­ings cov­er­ing the street and pan­icked civil­ians car­ry­ing away the wounded.

Atareb is in the west of Aleppo prov­ince, in an area that is part of a ‘de-es­ca­la­tion zone’ agreed un­der a deal reached ear­lier this year be­tween Syria’s al­lies Rus­sia and Iran, and rebel backer Tur­key.

(AFP)

Smoke rises from build­ings fol­low­ing a strike on a rebel-held area of the Jo­bar district, east of the Syr­ian cap­i­tal Da­m­as­cus on Satur­day

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