Differences on Idlib Overthrow Syria’s Four-Way Meeting

Differences on Idlib Overthrow Syria’s Four-Way Meeting

Friday, 17 August, 2018 - 06:30
Buildings destroyed in an explosion at an arms depot in Syria's Idlib province on August 12, 2018. AFP
Moscow - Raed Jabr
A decision by the Kremlin on Thursday to hold a third meeting of the Astana guarantor states instead of a Syria summit with the leaders of France, Turkey and Germany, signaled a stalemate in Russian-Turkish negotiations on the fate of the Syrian province of Idlib.

Russia expressed reservations over a possible four-way Syria summit planned for September 7 at Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s initiative.

Instead, it announced that work was in progress to hold a third meeting of the Russian, Turkish, and Iranian leaders on a Syrian settlement in early September.

“The possibility of holding another trilateral meeting in early September is being explored. After the three presidents’ schedules are agreed on through diplomatic channels, we will let you know,” Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

The spokesperson said meetings between the leaders of Russia, Turkey, France and Germany on Syria are not on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s schedule yet.

"There is no such meeting on the agenda," Peskov said.

Therefore, Moscow and Ankara have still not reached comprehensive understandings about the fate of Idlib as the Assad regime gears up for a military operation in the northwestern province.

Ankara had requested some time to settle the issue of extremist fighters in Idlib.

Separately, the meeting of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo with UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura on Wednesday tackled the return of refugees to Syria as well as the need "to prevent a humanitarian crisis from emerging in Idlib."

Washington confirmed that it still considers the Geneva process "as the only viable way forward for a long-term political solution in Syria.”

According to a statement issued by the State Department, Pompeo and de Mistura "agreed that all parties needed to move ahead on the political track and that any discussion of reconstruction was premature absent a political solution leading unalterably to both constitutional reform and free and fair elections as described in UN Security Council Resolution 2254.”

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