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New formats of Syria talks help resolve conflict - Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin Mikhail Metzel/TASS
Russian President Vladimir Putin
© Mikhail Metzel/TASS

ISTANBUL, October 27. /TASS/. New formats of talks on Syria are likely to help resolve the conflict in that country, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday at a news conference after the four-party summit on Syria in Istanbul.

"I think that an increasing number of participants in the settlement process serves this well. In essence, it was initially a proposal by the French president to join efforts of the Small Group and Astana process. That was actively supported by the Turkish president who initiated today’s meeting. I think it has served well," Putin said.

Asked about chances for a second summit of Russia, Germany, France and Turkey on Syria, Putin answered that the sides "has not negotiated this yet, but everything is possible."

Difficult process

Commenting on a reporter’s words about protracted negotiations on Syria’s Constitutional Committee, Putin emphasized that "prior to the beginning of the Astana process, the sides had not gathered for a year, this process [of the Syrian settlement] had been merely mothballed. It is a very complicated process and nothing at all had been happening."

"Then we - alongside the presidents of Turkey and Iran - initiated the Astana process, the ball was set rolling, and proposals started coming," he said. "It was not a simple story to host the Syrian National Congress in Sochi. Big spadework was underway. Yes, achieved agreements are not implemented as fast as we would like to, but there is movement ahead though," Putin underscored.

In particular, the Syrian government was persuaded into "presenting their part of the list to set up the Constitutional Committee." Later, due to Turkey’s efforts, "a combined part from the opposition appeared."

"At present, the third part should be made. Yes, the process is not simple. It should involve people who are trusted by all parties to the conflict," he added.

Putin asked to "have patience and to treat all participants of this process with respect."

"We expect to have success only on this road," the Russian president concluded.

France's suggestion

French President Emmanuel Macron told reporters after the four-way talks in Istanbul that the Astana format and the Small Group on Syria should team up for Syrian settlement.

"There are several formats of Syrian settlement. We need the Astana format (Russia, Iran and Turkey) and the Small Group (UK, Germany, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United States and France) to join forces. I have already spoken about that, including during my visit to St. Petersburg in May," the French leader said. "The efforts by those formats overlap, as I have already told, and the summit in Istanbul is a step forward in this direction."

"Now, on one hand, there is the work by Astana format members, and on the other - by the United States and other members of the small group. It is important that they act in coordination," Macron went on.

Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Saturday’s summit of Russia, Germany, France and Turkey demonstrated that the Astana format’s work may be improved if new members join it.

"The work that was done within the framework of the Astana negotiations has become an example of exemplary international cooperation. Today, as France and Germany joined us, we could see that it is possible to further improve cooperation within the Astana Format. The more countries join this format, the quicker we will solve the problem [of the Syrian crisis]," he said.

He said that the format of the four-nation summit may continue and be expanded.

"Will this format continue and be expanded? If it proves to be useful, then it can undoubtedly be continued if a joint decision is made on the issue," Erdogan said.

The Turkish leader said that Iran, which is also a member of the Astana group, will be informed about the results of Saturday’s talks.

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.