In an effort to mend relations between Turkey and Syria after years of hostility during the Syrian war, the defense ministers and intelligence chiefs of Iran, Russia, Syria, and Turkey met on Tuesday. Ankara and Moscow praised the meeting as positive.
Turkey, a member of NATO, has sent its own troops into the north of Syria to support the political and armed opposition to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad throughout the 12-year civil war.
Moscow is Assad’s main ally and Russia has encouraged a reconciliation with Ankara. But Damascus demands the full withdrawal of Turkish troops for relations to be restored.
At the talks in Moscow, the ministers and intelligence service chiefs discussed strengthening security in Syria and the normalisation of ties between Ankara and Damascus, the Turkish and Russian defence ministries said in separate statements.
All four countries reaffirmed their desire to preserve Syria’s territorial integrity and the need to intensify efforts for the speedy return of Syrian refugees to their country, the statements said.
The Syrian and Turkish defence ministers previously held talks in Moscow in December, marking the highest-level encounter between the two countries since the war began.
Turkey’s foreign minister last week said that a meeting of foreign ministers of the four countries that would build on the December talks may take place in early May, but he later said it was postponed because the parties could not agree on an exact date.