Russia to host talks aimed at repairing ties between Turkey and Syria

Officials from Iran will also attend the meeting in Moscow

Moscow is to host talks between the defence and intelligence chiefs of Russia, Turkey, Syria and Iran. AFP
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Delegations from Iran, Turkey and Syria are to meet in Moscow on Tuesday as part of an effort to repair relations between Ankara and Damascus.

Turkey and Syria severed ties in 2011 following the Syrian government's crackdown on protesters as the country was plunged into civil war.

During the conflict, which still simmers in north-western rebel-held Idlib province, Syria accused Turkey of providing a safe haven for extremist groups.

Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar announced the talks would go ahead on Tuesday.

Turkey has occupied large parts of northern Syria, along with allied militias, saying it is necessary to counter US-backed Kurdish groups that Ankara accuses of terrorism.

The talks in Moscow will also involve Iran, Mr Akar said.

The defence and intelligence chiefs of all four countries will attend the meeting.

Russia is seeking to repair ties between its ally Damascus and Ankara.

"Our aim is to solve the problems through negotiations and to bring peace to the region as soon as possible," Mr Akar said.

Turkey and Syria have little formal contact since Turkey began backing rebel groups against Syrian President Bashar Al Assad.

But Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is opened to talks with the Syrian leader.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has backed Mr Erdogan's efforts.

But Mr Al Assad, whose country aims to end its regional isolation, has said he will only meet Mr Erdogan if Turkey withdraws its troops from northern Syria.

This month, diplomats from Iran, Russia, Turkey and Syria met in Moscow to pave the way for a meeting of their foreign ministers.

Before the 2011 conflict, Syria was one of Turkey’s largest trading partners in the Middle East, with bilateral trade in 2010 worth about $2.5 billion.

Trade has increased in recent years, but remains largely between Turkey and areas of Syria under rebel control.

Updated: April 24, 2023, 10:16 AM