Russia, Turkey, Iran to hold talks on Syria conflict early next week
Russia, Turkey and the Islamic Republic of Iran are set to hold a new round of talks on the ongoing foreign-sponsored Syria crisis early next year, in the wake of US President Donald Trump’s decision last week to withdraw American troops from the war-ravaged Arab country.
“It's our turn to host the summit... around the first week of the year. This will depend on the schedules of the presidents” of the three countries, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov was cited as saying by Russia’s Interfax news agency on Friday.
The last summit between Russia's Vladimir Putin, Iran's Hassan Rouhani and Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan took place in Iran on September 7.
In a joint statement, the participants at the Tehran summit said the Syria crisis could only be resolved through a negotiated political process, and has no military solution.
The upcoming Syria talks will be the 12th conference organized by Moscow, Ankara and Tehran, including nine held in the Kazakh capital Astana.
The biggest achievement of the trio is the creation of de-escalation zones in Syria, have significantly reduced the level of violence in the conflict-ridden Arab country.
Kremlin welcomes reports of Syrian army gaining control of Manbij
Meanwhile, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Friday that Moscow welcomes the reports that Syrian government troops have gained control of the northern Syrian city of Manbij, which Kurdish militants from the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) had previously held.
“Of course, this will help in stabilizing the situation. The enlargement of the zone under the control of government forces... is without doubt a positive trend,” he said.
Kurdish forces, who were left exposed by Trump's pledge to pull out American soldiers from Syria, have asked Syrian government forces for help amid indications that Turkey is considering a military campaign against them.
Lavrov: Turkish delegation to discuss US troop pullout from Syria in Moscow
Separately, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said US troop pullout from Syria will be on the agenda of negotiations, when Turkish officials visit Moscow on December 29.
“We approach Ankara’s plans for conducting more anti-terrorist operations in eastern Syria from the standpoint of uprooting the remnants of terrorism in Syrian territory and restoring the territorial integrity and sovereignty of that country," Lavrov told a joint news conference following talks with his Jordanian counterpart Ayman Safadi.
He added, "We will discuss the situation that is taking shape in connection with the announced withdrawal of US forces from Syria with Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and Defense Minister Hulusi Akar on December 29.”
The top Russian diplomat also voiced skepticism about Trump’s remarks that he will withdraw 2,000 US soldiers deployed in Syria.
“The Americans don't always do what they promise, far from it. Washington clearly wants to pass on the responsibilities on the ground to its partners in the coalition,” Lavrov said.