Iran holds 7th summit on Syria with Putin, Erdogan in attendance

Tehran, Jul 19 (EFE).- Iran on Tuesday held its seventh summit under the Astana process with the participation of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, at a juncture marked by Ankara’s intention to launch another military operation against the Kurds in the northern part of the Arab nation.

Iran and Russia agreed on the need to respect Syria’s territorial integrity and emphasized the importance of finding “a political solution’ to the conflict in the wartorn nation.

The three guarantor countries of the peace in Syria also agreed to continue using the Astana mechanism, which was adopted in 2017 in Kazakhstan, Putin said at a joint press conference with his Turkish and Iranian counterparts after the summit.

“The consolidation of the three countries’ moves will benefit the normalization of the situation in Syria,” emphasized Putin, who arrived Tuesday afternoon in the Iranian capital.

He also stressed the importance of Iran, Russia and Turkey making a joint effort to help the Syrian people rebuild their country, saying that “This means reactivating the economy of this country and also reestablishing the social sector, returning the immigrants, refugees and displaced persons to their homes.”

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, in his speech at the opening of the summit, stated that his country’s position vis-a-vis the conflict in Syria is “to maintain the territorial integrity of this country and reach a political solution without foreign interference.”

“Military action is not only not a solution, but it also leads to the deterioration of the situation,” said Raisi, just as the supreme leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei, had said during the meeting he held with Erdogan.

Raisi also emphasized that the countries in the region and the international community must help displaced Syrians return to their homes.

Conditioning humanitarian aid to the achievement of the political objectives of some Western countries and the “Zionist regime,” a reference to Israel, will interrupt the process, the Iranian leader said, going on to demand “more serious” attention and action on the part of the international community.

Raisi also stressed that “the illegitimate presence of the occupying US forces has become a destabilizing factor for Syria and the region,” and he emphasized the need for US forces to withdraw from the area, including Syria, as quickly as possible.

Erdogan, who backs the opposition forces in Syria while Iran and Russia support the Damascus government of Bashar al Assad, was critical of the other two nations at the summit in his own address, saying that “You say that you understand Turkey’s concern, for which we are grateful, but words alone don’t heal the pain.”

The Turkish leader said that his country’s problem with Syria is due to the terrorist groups operating there, stating that “terrorism also threatens the territorial integrity of Turkey. Turkey’s fight against the Islamic State, and the Kurdish PJAK, PKK, YPG and other terrorist groups will continue,” at the same time adding that “these terrorist organizations must be eradicated.”

“The terrorist groups I mentioned should be (kept) at least 30 kilometers (19 miles) from the borders of Turkey. We hope that our friends sincerely support our actions in the fight against terrorism,” said Erdogan, who last month said he was going to launch a new offensive against the Kurds to the north and northeast of the Syrian cities of Aleppo, Manbij and Tell Rifaat.

Khameini stated Tuesday during his meeting with the Turkish leader that any military attack on northern Syria will harm the entire region, including Turkey.

“Syria’s problems must be resolved through negotiations, and Iran, Turkey, Syria and Russia must put an end to this problem through dialogue,” Khameini said.

The summit was aimed at seeking to end the Turkish offensive in northern Syria launched by Erdogan last month.

Meanwhile on Tuesday, Iran’s National Oil Company and Russia’s Gazprom signed a $40 billion memorandum regarding energy cooperation.

Facing harsh sanctions imposed by the US, and the West in general, Russia and Iran have recently reiterated their intention to expand bilateral economic and political ties.

Putin’s visit comes three days after the conclusion of US President Joe Biden’s Middle East tour aimed at further integrating Israel with its Arab neighbors and mobilizing regional pressure on Iran and Russia over their activities in Syria and elsewhere.


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