Russia and Turkey discuss Idlib Showdown, seeking de-escalation

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MOSCOW – [EAD] – The delegations of Turkey and Russia are negotiating in Moscow on the situation in the Idlib de-escalation zone. The meeting is held in the building of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia in a closed to the press mode. The Turkish delegation at the talks is led by Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal, Anadolu reports.

The delegations of both countries include diplomats, representatives of military departments and special services.

The first stage of negotiations ended last week in Ankara amid a sharp escalation of tension in northwestern Syria. The Russian delegation was led by the Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation for Syrian Settlement Alexander Lavrentyev and Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin . The Russian side was then informed of Turkey’s concern about the situation in Syria. Negotiations in the Turkish capital did not bring concrete results, recalls the Anatolian Agency.

On February 12, Vladimir Putin had a telephone conversation with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan . Discussions continued on various aspects of resolving the Syrian crisis, primarily in the context of the aggravation of the situation in the Idlib de-escalation zone, the Kremlin’s press service said. The importance of the full implementation of the existing Russian-Turkish agreements, including the Sochi Memorandum of September 17, 2018, was noted. For these purposes, it was agreed to conduct additional contacts through the relevant departments.

“We discussed the situation in Idlib, in particular, the consequences of the actions of the Turkish military, the forces of the regime of Assad and Russia. A decision was made to hold meetings between the Turkish and Russian military in Turkey, as well as representatives of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Defense and intelligence of the two countries in Moscow. Meetings will be organized in the very near future,” the Turkish leader said after a telephone conversation.

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The Russian delegation, who came to Ankara to discuss at the request of Turkish partners the cessation of the offensive of the Syrian government forces in the province of Idlib, left Turkey earlier this week without reaching an agreement. Representatives of Russia arrived in Ankara on February 8, a few days after eight Turkish troops died as a result of shelling by the Syrian government forces. On Monday, February 10th, when representatives of Turkey and Russia were negotiating in Ankara, a second incident occurred in Idlib, which killed another five Turkish soldiers.

The second round of negotiations between the interdepartmental delegations of Russia and Turkey takes place on February 17th.

“Much work remains to be done, we continue to actively cooperate with Russia on these issues. You will find out the final answer on Monday, after the meeting of our delegations in Moscow. We must not allow the Syrian problem to play down our cooperation and affect our relations, ”said Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu earlier .

Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov , in turn, noted that he hopes for effective negotiations, emphasizing that they will be in-depth substantive on the Russian side.

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