SAWT BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL

| 3 March 2024, Sunday |

Erdogan and Putin to discuss Syria in Sochi – Turkish officials

Two Turkish officials said on Friday that Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan will visit Russia later this month for discussions with Russian President Vladimir Putin regarding the bloodshed in northern Syria, where Moscow and Ankara support opposite groups.

Turkey has backed rebels seeking to depose Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, while Russia has aided Assad’s survival after a decade of fighting.

Both sides have complained about violations of an 18-month truce in the northwestern Idlib area, Syria’s final rebel stronghold, where two Turkish troops were killed in an attack on Saturday, according to Ankara.

“The main agenda point is Syria, namely Idlib,” a senior Turkish official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said of the planned talks in Russian resort of Sochi. “The conditions set out in the Idlib agreement have not been fully implemented.”

The March 2020 agreement followed weeks of fighting that brought Turkey and Russia close to conflict and displaced nearly a million people.

“There should not be any new instability in Syria,” another Turkish official told Reuters.

Erdogan’s planned two-day visit will follow his trip to the United Nations General Assembly in New York next week, the officials said, without specifying exact dates.

AREAS OF COOPERATION

Despite backing opposing sides in both the Syrian and Libyan conflicts, Turkey and Russia have forged close cooperation in the defense, energy and tourism sectors.

NATO member Turkey has bought Russian S-400 air defenses, leading to U.S. sanctions on Turkish defence industries, and has been in talks with Russia over possibly buying a second batch.

Both Turkish officials said this would be discussed, as well as energy projects and tourism.

Ankara and Moscow were rivals in Nagorno-Karabakh during fighting between Azeri and ethnic Armenian forces last year. While Russia brokered a ceasefire between Turkey-backed Azerbaijan and Armenia, it is working with Ankara to monitor it.

Turkey also angered Russia earlier this year when it sold Turkish drones to Ukraine amid tensions over the Donbass region, and later to Poland in the first such sale to a NATO member.

The official said both Nagorno-Karabakh and the drone sales would be discussed in Sochi, while the senior official said that further defense cooperation may be discussed.

    Source:
  • Reuters