Presidents Putin, Rouhani & Erdogan vow to defeat terrorism in Syria
... denounce US presence (VIDEO)
After three-way talks between the presidents of Russia, Iran and Turkey, the leaders reiterated their commitment to restoring peace and stability in Syria and defeating terrorist groups that still control parts of the country.
Speaking to the press after the leaders’ fifth trilateral summit in Ankara on Monday, Presidents Hassan Rouhani of Iran, Vladimir Putin of Russia and Recep Erdogan of Turkey laid out their plans going forward for resolving Syria’s turmoil, which largely centers on defeating armed groups still active in the Idlib Province and on reforming the country’s constitution.
Rouhani said the focus must first be placed on security, and that constitutional reform and elections would ultimately follow, but slammed “foreign forces” for complicating the peace process.
“We all support the unity of Syria and its territorial integrity, and we are all against the presence of foreign forces in … this country, who came here without any invitation by the lawful government of Syria,” said Rouhani, aiming his criticism at the United States.
The US “didn’t help in any way” to resolve the Syrian crisis, Rouhani noted, adding that Washington had “very dangerous objectives,” seeking to “sedate” and “dismember” the country.
Rouhani also suggested that a model similar to the Syrian peace process might be applied to resolve the war in Yemen, which is now in its fifth year.
President Erdogan said the “separation” of Syria must be prevented, and urged for the creation of a “corridor of peace” that facilitates the safe return of refugees to their homes. He insisted the corridor must exclude “terrorist groups,” however, referring to armed Kurdish units present near the Syrian-Turkish border, many of whom enjoy American support but who are considered as ‘terrorists’ by Ankara.
Echoing his Iranian counterpart, Erdogan also noted that there had been no “positive steps” in working out a role for the United States in the process, adding that Russia, Turkey and Iran would, therefore, proceed on their own.
Regarding reform of the Syrian constitution, President Putin said diplomats from all three countries worked hard to come up with an agreement for the formation of a constitutional committee, which will include representatives from both the Syrian government and the rebel opposition.
Establishing a new political process would “contribute to security” not only in Syria but “in the whole region of the Middle East,” Putin added.
The Russian president also stressed the importance of “fighting terrorism” in the Idlib Province, which, he said, remains a “major concen.”
“We agreed to continue our joint efforts to eradicate the terrorist hotbed,” in Idlib, Putin said, “and Russia is ready to support the Syrian army in launching local operations directed at rooting out the terrorist threat, wherever it appears.”