Kremlin: Putin, ErdoIan discuss Syria, ready for political dialogue

The Kremlin said on Wednesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held a phone conversation and shared their opinions on the Syria crisis in light of ministerial meetings in Vienna last week.
Both sides confirmed they were willing to continue political dialogue, it said.
President Erdoganand’s Spokesman ibrahim Kalin said at a press conference in Ankara on Wednesday Turkey sees no place for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the future.
He said Assad lost his legitimacy and could not take any role in a political solution. Kalin, however, suggested that Turkey, in principle, accepts the participation of all sides in the Syrian conflict to peace talks recently held in Vienna.
He indicated little change in Turkeyand’s foreign policy following Sundayand’s election, saying its andquotopen-doorandquot policy to refugees from Syria would continue whether or not it received assistance from the European Union.
Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the US firmly opposes to see Assad remain in place, while Iran and Russia appear as the staunch backers of the Syrian president.
It seems to change recently as Moscow voices a shift in its approach to future of Assad.
Russia does not see keeping Assad in power as a matter of principle, the Foreign Ministry in Moscow said on Tuesday in comments that suggested a divergence of opinion with Iran, the Syrian presidentand’s other main international backer.
Fueling speculation of Russian-Iranian differences over Assad, the head of Iranand’s Revolutionary Guard Corps suggested on Monday that Tehran may be more committed to him than Moscow was.
However, one senior regional official cautioned against reading too much into the public statements on Assad, saying there is no difference between Russia and Iran over him. They agree on his staying in office, and that it is up to the Syrian people to elect their president, the official said.
While Russia and Iran have been Assadand’s foremost foreign supporters during Syriaand’s four-year-old war, the United States, its Gulf allies and Turkey have insisted the president must step down as part of any eventual peace deal.
Talks in Vienna on Friday among the main foreign players involved in diplomatic efforts on Syria failed to reach agreement on Assad.
h2 Moscow calls for agreement on opposition groups in Syriah2 While the first two rounds of Vienna talks failed to yield a substantial result, diplomatic efforts have not ceased since then.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov expressed hope Wednesday that diplomats will agree on a list of opposition groups that should be invited to UN-brokered peace talks on Syria.
Moscow previously lamented there is no agreement in the US-led coalition in Syria on who should be declared legitimate opposition to Syrian President Assadand’s government — or should be targeted like the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group.
Lavrov told reporters in Moscow he hopes for an agreement on the Syrian opposition list as well as on a list of extremist groups that andquotwill not be covered by a cease-fire that we hope to declare at some point.andquot
Lavrov spoke after meeting with UN Syrian envoy Staffan de Mistura, who was in Moscow after a visit to Damascus.
De Mistura called on Middle Eastern and Western nations to andquotuse their influenceandquot on various opposition groups they back in Syria andquotso that these groups come to political talks with a constructive platform.andquot
He also said the UN is ready to host talks between the Syrian government and the opposition andquotimmediately.andquot
Russia and Western nations have been engaged in intense diplomatic talks in the past few weeks, aiming to bring about a political settlement in Syria, which has been torn by a civil war since 2011 that has killed 250,000 people and forced millions to flee.
Russia has been Assadand’s strongest backer and began carrying out air strikes on ISIL fighters in Syria in September at Assadand’s request. Assad made a surprise visit to Moscow last month, which was viewed as a signal that Russia ultimately seeks a political settlement after weeks of heavy airstrikes in Syria.

SOURCE: TODAY’S ZAMAN

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