Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Hassan Rouhani of Iran on Wednesday in Sochi to share their views on Syrian reconciliation. The meeting comes at a time when Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) is steadily losing ground in Syria.
Last week, the Kremlin confirmed the meeting, meant “to have an in-depth exchange of opinions on Syrian reconciliation, particularly in light of common successful work within the Astana format.”
Putin, Erdogan, and Rouhani “are planning to discuss further steps to ensure long-term stability in this country” amid “the successes in combatting terrorism and visible reduction of violence in Syria,” the Kremlin statement said.
The Sochi summit will also lay the groundwork for the ‘National Dialogue Congress,’ which will bring to the table both the Syrian government and various sectarian groups willing to enter into talks with Damascus. However, Ankara is reluctant to have direct talks with the Kurds, while the Syrian opposition is still skeptical about discussing peacemaking efforts with the government.
Later in the day, the Iranian president said it was crucial that the trilateral meeting seeks to find ways to reconcile the Syrian government and opposition groupings. “It is important that consultations are held in this summit [in Sochi] about that congress, which should be in the Syrian people’s interests eventually,” President Rouhani said before leaving for Russia, as cited by Tasnim news agency.
The summit comes just days after a surprise meeting between Putin and Syrian President Bashar Assad, who unexpectedly visited Sochi on Monday. Assad, whose forces have been fighting the terrorists since 2011, said that it was due to Russia’s support that Syria has managed to exist as a state.
Previously, the Russian president also held telephone conversations with US President Donald Trump and Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Moscow and Washington have reached “a fairly sustainable cooperation” on Syria, though there are “huge problems in condemning terrorists and extremists.”