EghtesadOnline: Iran, Russia and Turkey see the planned US withdrawal from Syria as a positive step and are committed to taking further steps to help improve the political and humanitarian situation in the war-torn Arab state, leaders of the three countries said on Thursday after a summit on Syria.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, one of the Damascus government’s closest allies, hosted the meeting in the Black Sea resort of Sochi to weigh the future of Syria with Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey.
“The US decision on the withdrawal of its forces from Syria, if implemented, would be a step that would help strengthen stability and security in the country,” the presidents said in a joint statement published in English by IRNA.
They said such a move would be in line with the principles of sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Syria as well as those of the United Nations Charter, according to Financial Tribune.
President Donald Trump in December announced a planned withdrawal of American forces, which promises to free up territory controlled by US or US-backed forces.
No Big Change
At a press conference following the meeting, Putin said the three leaders agreed that the US pullout “would be a positive step that would help stabilize the situation in this region, where ultimately the legitimate government should re-establish control,” Al Jazeera reported.
However, he said Moscow had not seen any big changes suggesting the US was moving to withdraw its troops—which are believed to number around 2,000—from Syria.
The Russian president added that Trump was trying to fulfill his election campaign promises by ordering the troop withdrawal, but that he was not able to because of what he described as internal political issues.
Rouhani said the presence of the US in the Middle East has harmed regional countries and called on Washington to fully withdraw its troops from the region.
The Turkish president stated that there is no clear timeline for the US troop withdrawal, adding that Trump’s own team disagrees with him over the planned pullout.
He also said coordination between Russia, Iran and Turkey during the US withdrawal is important to his government.
Hopes for a political resolution to the conflict in Syria have never been stronger, Erdogan noted.
In their joint statement, the three leaders reaffirmed their commitment to facilitating the launch of a Syrian constitutional committee in coordination with the UN.
They welcomed the mutual release of detainees based on the previous agreements and highlighted the importance of “creating conditions for the safe and voluntary return of refugees and internally displaced persons to their original places of residence in Syria.”
They also agreed to assign their representatives with the task of holding the next international meeting on Syria in Astana in April and announced that they will hold the next tripartite summit in Turkey.
On the sidelines of the summit, Rouhani held separate meetings with his Turkish and Russian counterparts, in which they discussed a range of bilateral, regional and international issues.
In his meeting with Putin, the Iranian president hailed Tehran-Moscow cooperation on Syria and Russia’s support for the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which the US abandoned in May.
Putin said most of the agreed joint projects are currently being implemented and urged closer cooperation in the fields of transport, energy, industry, defense and agriculture.
Rouhani and Erdogan agreed to work toward expanding their relations in all spheres, particularly in the fight against terrorism and in the economic sector.