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Putin, Erdogan to discuss Syria in Ankara

September 28, 2017, 9:01 UTC+3 MOSCOW

On September 28, the two presidents will discuss the Syria crisis

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© Alexey Nikolcky/Russia's presidential press-service/TASS

MOSCOW, September 28. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin leaves on a working visit to Ankara on Thursday to meet with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. One of the topics the two leaders plan to discuss will be the situation in Syria, Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

According to the Kremlin spokesman, Putin’s visit to Turkey pursues purely pragmatic goals. Russia and Turkey, in his words, have close trade and economic, investment, cultural and military-technical cooperation, and also implement megaprojects. "Besides, the countries cooperate in ensuring regional security, including in Syria," he said, adding that the two leaders will "synchronize watches on all these issues."

Addressing a Bloomberg business forum, the Turkish leader also confirmed that he plans to discuss with Putin the situation in Syria’s Idlib.

In May, the Syrian ceasefire guarantor nations, namely Russia, Iran and Turkey, signed a memorandum on de-escalation zones in Syria. As of today, three such zones - in southwestern Syria, in Eastern Ghouta (a Damascus suburb) and around the city of Homs - are already functioning. The fourth one embraces the province of Idlib and parts of the neighboring Aleppo, Latakia and Hama provinces.

Problem of Iraqi Kurdistan’s independence

The two leaders had a telephone conversation on September 25 to discuss the results of the latest round of the Astana talks on Syria. Apart from that, they raised the issue of Iraqi Kurdistan’s independence referendum. "This issue was discussed in the telephone conversations," Peskov confirmed without elaborating.

"In this case Russia’s stance did not see any changes, we still believe that maintaining territorial and political integrity of the states is extremely important for stability and security in the region, as well as for the settlement of the acute problems that are in abundance in the (Middle East) region," he said.

A referendum on independence for the Kurdistan region of Iraq was held on Monday. The final results are due within the next few days, but preliminary results are already clear after more than 280,000 out of 3.3 million votes have been counted. They show that 95% said "yes" to independence.

The prime minister of the autonomous Kurdish region, Nechirvan Barzani, said the Kurdish leadership does not intend to declare intendance immediately, but is ready for a dialogue with the government in Baghdad and also with the neighboring states.

Iraqi Kurdistan is an unofficial name of the autonomous Kurdistan region in the north of Iraq, whose legal status is fixed in the Iraqi Constitution of 2005.

The Iraqi government was against the referendum which it deems unconstitutional. Ankara and Tehran were also against, favoring the unity of the Arab country. Washington and some other European countries also believe the referendum is inexpedient at the moment, as it undermines efforts towards anti-terrorist fight and regional security.

Relations with African Union

Before leaving to Turkey on September 28, Putin plans to meet with Guinean President and Chairman of the African Union Alpha Conde, who is on an official visit to Russia at President Putin’s invitation.

"It is planned to discuss the current state of and prospects for further development of Russian-Guinean relations, issues of cooperation between Russia and the African Union, and current international and regional problems, first of all, the situation on the African continent," the Kremlin said.

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