Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet at the presidential palace in Sochi, Russia, on Nov. 12. Photo: Kremlin
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The presidents of Russia and Turkey met at a presidential palace on the Black Sea as ISIS in Syria is on the heels of military defeat, and both countries are committed to a “political resolution.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin held a working meeting in Sochi on Monday.
“We had an opportunity to discuss the latest developments about the Syrian conflict. We both agree that at the point we have reached there is now a basis for us to focus on political resolution,” read a statement from the Turkish presidency.
Putin noted how the two countries “cooperate very closely on security in the Syrian region,” according to the Kremlin.
Iran, Turkey and Russia have backed peace talks in Astana between the Syrian regime and rebels.
"I would like to note with satisfaction that our joint work with Turkey and Iran as guarantors of the ‘Astana process’ continues to yield concrete results,” Russia Today news quoted Putin as telling reporters.
The Syrian civil war is in its sixth year. The UN estimates half of all Syrians have been displaced at some point in the conflict and more than 400,000 people have died.
“The level of violence has certainly decreased and favorable conditions are being created for promoting inter-Syrian dialogue under the auspices of the UN," Putin said.
Russia and Turkey began a process to normalize relations following Turkey downing a Russian jet in late 2015. Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov was also killed by Turkish police officer in December 2016.
“Naturally, our bilateral relations as well as cooperation in solving regional issues give us a chance to look to the future with greater clarity,” added Erdogan, according to the Kremlin.
Putin called Turkish-Russian relations “almost fully restored” as he and Erdogan prepared their teams for the talks.
Prior to the meeting, Erdogan expressed his frustration at the presence of US and Russian troops in Syria.
“I am having trouble understanding these comments,” Erdogan told reporters, according to Hurriyet. “If a military solution is out of the question, then those who say this should pull their troops out."
Putin and US President Donald Trump had released a joint statement on Saturday following their meeting in Vietnam that said there was no military solution in Syria.
Erdogan reminded the reporters that the United States had promised to leave Iraq, but hasn't done so.
“The United States has 13 bases in Syria in total and Russia has five others," Erdogan said.
The US-led international coalition to defeat ISIS has supported Kurdish fighters in northern Syria. Turkey has opposed the alliance, claiming the forces of the People's Protection Units (YPG) were linked to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which Ankara, Washington, and Brussels have listed as a "terrorist" organization – an accusation the YPG denies.
Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime are battling ISIS-counterattacks in the town of al-Boukamal near the Iraqi border in Deir ez-Zor province. It is seen as one of the strategic border crossings to Iraq, as well as one of the last major territories held by ISIS in Iraq or Syria.