Iran, Russia and Turkey to sit down for summit

The three countries' third attempt at ending the conflict in Syria through a tripartite summit will kick off on September 7.

The presidents of Iran, Russia, and Turkey will meet on September 7 in Iran for their third tripartite summit on seeking to end the conflict in Syria, Turkish state television said Monday.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will travel to Iran to meet with his Russian and Iranian counterparts Vladimir Putin and Hassan Rouhani, state-run TRT Haber television said. Private NTV television added the summit would be held in the northern Iranian city of Tabriz.

A Turkish presidential official contacted by AFP could not immediately confirm the reports. However, the presidency has invited Turkish journalists to cover a trip by Erdogan to Iran on September 7.

Erdogan had previously indicated that he planned to host a summit on September 7 in Istanbul on Syria with Putin and also French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

But press reports over the last weeks have suggested that such a meeting was increasingly unlikely and was set to be replaced by the latest three-way summit between Iran, Russia and Turkey.

The three leaders have previously held summits in the Russian resort city of Sochi and the Turkish capital Ankara.

Ankara, Moscow and Tehran are backing peace talks based in the Kazakh capital Astana which they insist are aimed at reinforcing, rather than undermining, a UN peace process in Geneva.

Iran and Russia are the main allies of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and their military interventions in Syria are widely seen as tipping the balance of the seven year civil war in the regime’s favour.

Turkey has backed rebels seeking to oust Assad but since late 2016 has been working increasingly closely with Iran and Russia to bring peace to Syria.

A major item on the agenda at the summit is expected to be the rebel-held northwestern Syrian province of Idlib which Assad wants to re-capture, to crown a string of military successes.

But Turkey has said a military operation to take Idlib risks provoking a humanitarian “catastrophe”, warning that 3.5 million people are crammed into the region.

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