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Putin Calls for Extending Truce, Erdogan Links Manbij to Raqqa | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan enter a hall during a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, March 10, 2017. REUTERS/Sergei Ilnitsky/Pool

Moscow, Ankara- Syrian updates were a major part in the discussions between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Moscow on Friday. While Putin called for field truce until reaching radical solutions, his guest focused on the importance of confronting People’s Protection Units (YPG) as well as ISIS and he linked Manbij to Raqqa.

Erdogan, in a joint news conference, underlined necessity to exert Russian-Turkish efforts to stop the bloodshed in Syria and considered Turkish operations to purge north Syria regions of terrorist members highly important.

“Even if we do not agree on all issues, we keep all channels of communications open,” Erdogan said.

They both underscored unity of Syrian territory as a basic condition to reach a comprehensive settlement. The Russian president was “cautiously optimistic” regarding consolidating the Syrian ceasefire and moving towards a political settlement.

In the same context, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Kazakhstan Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov discussed arrangements of the next round of Syria talks in Astana, during a phone-call on Friday.

Kazakhstani Foreign Ministry affirmed earlier that negotiations will be held on the 14th and 15th of March, adding that the first day will witness consultations among parties and sessions will take place on the second day. Along with the Syrian regime and armed opposition factions delegations, the United Nations, United States, Jordan and sponsoring countries (Russia, Turkey and Iran) will take part in this round.

In a news conference, Lieutenant General Sergei Rudskoy, chief of the Main Operational Directorate of the Russian General Staff, said: “During the negotiations, there are plans to finish preparing a single map of the whereabouts of Jabhat al-Nusra and the ISIS, approve a draft regulation on a district that has joined a ceasefire, set up a working group for the exchange of forcibly held persons and discuss proposals on establishing a constitutional commission.”

Commenting on these statements, Spokesman for the Syrian opposition Yahya Al-Aridi told Asharq Al-Awsat that “since launching these negotiations, the mission was not to tackle the political aspect but to impose and consolidate a ceasefire.”