The foreign ministers of Russia, Syria, Turkey and Iran have met in Moscow for high-level talks on rebuilding ties between Ankara and Damascus after years of animosity during Syria’s war.
Syria’s Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad was quoted as saying by the Syrian state news agency SANA that “despite all the negatives of the past years, there is an opportunity” for Damascus and Ankara to work together.
But the priority for the Syrian government was ending the presence of all foreign militaries, including Turkey’s. “Without progress in this matter, we will remain stagnant and will not reach any real results,” Mekdad was quoted as saying.
Syria’s northwest includes territory held by opposition groups, including armed forces backed by Turkey.
Russia’s foreign ministry said in a statement that there had been a “positive and constructive atmosphere” and that the countries’ deputy foreign ministers would be tasked with preparing a roadmap to advance Syria-Turkey ties.
In his opening speech, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov expressed hope that the meeting would pave the way to drafting a road map for normalising Turkey-Syria relations.
Lavrov said he sees Moscow’s task as “not only in consolidating politically the progress that has been made, but also in determining general guidelines for further movement”.
Moscow is Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s main ally and Russia has encouraged reconciliation with Turkey. Syrian and Turkish defence ministers also held talks in Moscow in December.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu stressed the need for “cooperation in the fight against terrorism and working together to establish the basis for the return of Syrians” during the meeting, he said in a tweet.