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Assad’s future not discussed at four-way talks in Istanbul — Putin

October 28, 2018, 0:14 UTC+3

Leaders of Russia, Germany, France and Turkey have confirmed at the summit in Istanbul that the Syria conflict might be resolved through political and diplomatic efforts

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Russian President Vladimir Putin arrives in Istanbul

Russian President Vladimir Putin arrives in Istanbul

© Sergei Guneyev/RIA Novosti/POOL/TASS

ISTANBUL, October 27. /TASS/. The four-way summit on Syria did not touch upon Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s future in the country’s political system, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday at a news conference after the summit.

"Certainly, we did not discuss any individuals," the Russian leader said when asked about the al-Assad’s fate. "It is counterproductive if we seek a positive result at the end of our road."

The Russian president pointed out that "the Syrians should decide the future of their own country, including naming persons on political stage."

According to Putin, the launch of the political process establishing the constitutional committee should become one of the conditions for this choice.

"That is what we have been doing today," he concluded.

Supporting political process

Putin said the leaders of Russia, Germany, France and Turkey have confirmed at the summit in Istanbul that the Syria conflict might be resolved through political and diplomatic efforts.

The Russian president pointed out that most of the Syrian territory had been retaken from terrorists and so the country was in the process of transitioning to peaceful construction.

"All participants in the meeting are united in the main thing that long-term stability in Syria could be achieved through political and diplomatic steps in full compliance with Resolution 2254 of the United Nations Security Council and in strict compliance with principles of unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic," Putin said.

He added that "the Syrians should decide on their country’s future by themselves."

"In this context, we have discussed prospects for the Astana format and so-called Small Group (comprising the UK, Germany, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the US and France - TASS) to join their efforts. In our view, it could facilitate the beginning of a real political process in Syria and could attract more motivated and constructively minded representatives of Syrian society," Putin said.

The Russian president thanked the Turkish leadership for hosting the summit. According to him, at the four-way talks "serious work was done to coordinate approaches to fundamental issues for resolving the Syria conflict."

"The joint statement we adopted [today] mirrors determination of Russia, Turkey, Germany and France to enhance cooperation in the interests of normalization in the Syrian Arab Republic, to launch an effective intra-Syrian dialogue and to carry out necessary state reforms and transformations," Putin said, underlying that Russia, Turkey and Iran had created favorable conditions for that work in Astana.

On Saturday, Istanbul hosted a four-party summit on Syria that was attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Eradicating terrorists

Putin went on to say that Russia reserves the right to help eradicate terrorists in the Syrian province of Idlib should they carry on with provocations and block establishment of a demilitarized zone there.

Putin pointed out that he and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan informed in detail German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron about implementation of the Russian-Turkish agreements on Idlib. The Russian president dubbed the establishment of a de-escalation zone and a demilitarized zone in Idlib as a provisional measure.

"We hope that the Turkish side ensures in the near future that the opposition will finish withdrawing heavy weapons and military units from the demilitarized zone," Putin said. "We can see that our Turkish counterparts are doing their best for this."

"Should radical elements obstruct resolution of the problem and continue armed provocations from the Idlib zone, Russia reserves the right to provide effective support to resolute efforts of the Syrian government aimed at rooting out this hotspot of terrorist threat," the Russian leader emphasized.

"Despite the fact, that the level of violence in Syria has been drastically reduced, a major task is to eradicate all the radical elements gathering there. We must not allow the gunmen who have gained combat experience to carry on committing criminal offences, to set up ‘sleeping cells in our countries, to recruit followers and to preach extremist ideology and terror," Putin said.

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