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Moscow welcomes Erdoğan’s proposal for trilateral summit with Syria, Russia

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Russia welcomes Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s proposal for the participation of Russia, Turkey and Syria in a trilateral summit, Russian news agency Interfax reported, citing Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov on Friday.

“We always welcome issues concerning the normalization of relations between neighboring sovereign states,” Bogdanov told reporters after he was asked by Interfax about Russia’s attitude to the Turkish president’s proposal.

It is necessary to find out what Damascus thinks about this initiative, but such a stance demonstrated by Turkey “can only be welcomed,” he said.

Syria’s reaction to the initiative is not yet known, Bogdanov said.

Erdoğan was quoted as telling Turkish media on Thursday that he proposed to his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, the formation of a “trilateral mechanism” with Russia and Syria to accelerate diplomacy between Ankara and Damascus.

Speaking to reporters after a trip to Turkmenistan, Erdoğan said he suggested to Putin a series of meetings among Turkey, Russia and Syria to revisit long-strained relations with Damascus.

“First our intelligence agencies, then defense ministers, and then foreign ministers could meet. After their meetings we, as the leaders, may come together. I suggested this to Mr. Putin, and he viewed it favorably,” Erdoğan was quoted as saying.

Erdoğan has signaled readiness for rapprochement with Syria, saying that there should be no resentment in politics.

Erdoğan’s government backs rebel fighters who have tried to topple President Bashar al-Assad and earlier accused the Syrian leader of state terrorism, saying at the start of the conflict that peace efforts could not continue under his rule.

Assad accuses Turkey of supporting terrorism by backing a number of militants, including Islamist groups, and of repeated military incursions into northern Syria.

Reuters reported earlier this month that Syria is resisting Russian efforts to broker a summit with Erdoğan after more than a decade of bitter hostility since the outbreak of Syria’s civil war.

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