Turkish, Iranian leaders meet in Ankara ahead of Syria summit with Russia

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani held talks in Ankara with his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan ahead of a three-way summit with Russia on the Syrian conflict.
During the meeting, the leaders exchanged views on bilateral relations, alongside regional and international issues.

After the meeting, Erdogan will host the trilateral Turkey-Russia-Iran summit on Syria.
Russia and Iran are Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s strongest backers, while Turkey supports anti-Assad insurgents.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) shakes hands with his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani during an official welcoming ceremony at the presidential complex in Ankara on April 16, 2016 (AFP Photo/Adem Altan)

Rouhani said before leaving Iran that foreign forces operating in Syria without approval from the Damascus government should leave – a reference to Turkey and the United States.

“Iran believes that the presence of foreign forces in Syria without the authorization of the Syrian government is illegal and must be halted,” Iranian state television quoted Rouhani as saying in Tehran on Tuesday night.

He said Wednesday’s meeting with Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin would discuss reconstruction in Syria as well as work on a new constitution, part of a plan for a political solution to end the seven-year-old war.

Despite their differences Iran, Russia and Turkey are three of the major powers involved in a conflict whose course has been largely defined by foreign interventions, and their influence could increase further if the United States pulls out.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday he wanted to get U.S. forces out of Syria but offered no timetable, as his advisers warned of the hard work left to defeat Islamic State and stabilize areas recaptured from the hardline militant group.

Trump told a news conference the United States would “not rest until ISIS is gone”, but he also suggested that victory was imminent.

“It’s time,” Trump told reporters when asked if he was inclined to withdraw U.S. forces.

Source: Reuters, Anadolu Agency
Md. Irfan Ansari

The Kootneeti – Middle East Monitor

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