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Press statements following meeting with President of Iran Hassan Rouhani and President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan

November 22, 2017, Sochi

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,

The President of Iran, Mr Rouhani, the President of Turkey, Mr Erdogan, and I have just concluded comprehensive talks on Syria, which were held in a constructive and businesslike manner.

We have thoroughly discussed the key aspects of the Syrian settlement and agreed to continue making every effort to resolve the primary task of establishing peace and stability in that country, and preserving its sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity.

We noted with satisfaction the significant successes in our joint fight against terrorism, and confirmed our willingness to increase cooperation in order to completely destroy ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra, and other extremist groups.

In our common opinion, the successes on the battlefield, which are bringing closer the liberation of Syria from militants, are also ushering in a qualitatively new stage in overcoming the crisis in general. I am referring to the realistic prospect of achieving lasting and comprehensive normalisation in Syria, including political life in that country, in the post-conflict period. This is precisely the aim of the joint statement that came out of our talks.

The document outlines the priority areas for further cooperation between Russia, Turkey, and Iran, which play a leading role in Syrian affairs, and sets specific goals for the future. We are united in our commitment to promote the interaction of the three states within the Astana format, which has already proved its effectiveness and contributed to significantly reducing the level of violence in Syria and creating the necessary conditions for the return of refugees and internally displaced persons.

As guarantor countries, Russia, Iran and Turkey continue to work closely on strengthening the ceasefire, the sustainable functioning of de-escalation zones, and on increasing the level of trust between the parties to the conflict. To this end, priority steps have been identified to step up inclusive intra-Syrian dialogue on the basis of Security Council Resolution 2254.

I note with satisfaction that the presidents of Iran and Turkey supported the initiative to hold a country-wide forum in Syria – the National Dialogue Congress. We agreed to hold this very important event at an appropriate level and ensure the participation of representatives of broad sections of Syrian society. We have instructed the foreign ministries, as well as representatives of special services, security and defence agencies to continue looking into the makeup and timeframe for holding the congress here in Sochi.

Generally, the idea is to bring together at the negotiating table delegations from various political parties, the domestic and external opposition and ethnic and religious groups. The congress will address key issues on the national agenda for Syria, above all those related to defining the parameters of future statehood, the adoption of a new constitution and, based on that, holding elections under UN oversight. This will provide an incentive for stepping up efforts to bring about a settlement in Syria within the framework of the Geneva process. To reiterate, Syria’s fate should be decided by the Syrians themselves – both government loyalists and the opposition.

Our colleagues were briefed on the conversation with President of Syria Bashar Assad that took place here in Sochi. We took note of the Syrian leadership’s stated commitment to the principles of settling the political crisis by peaceful means and carrying out a constitutional reform, as well as free, UN-supervised elections.

During today’s talks, we did not bypass matters of Syria’s socioeconomic recovery. A great deal of work lies ahead, to help the Syrian people create infrastructure, restore industry, agriculture and trade and reopen social facilities: hospitals, schools and kindergartens.

It is of paramount importance – we have repeatedly stressed this – to boost the amount of humanitarian aid to the population, completely clear Syria’s territory of landmines and preserve the historical and cultural heritage. At our meeting today, we have agreed to do our best to encourage other states, as well as regional and international organisations, to become involved in these efforts.

In conclusion, I would like to thank our Iranian and Turkish partners, my colleagues President Rouhani and President Erdogan for this substantive, very useful and productive conversation. I would like to hope that the agreements that have been reached will help effectively accelerate a peacefull settlement in Syria and reduce the risks of the outbreak of new conflicts and the escalation of interethnic and interreligious rivalry and as result, will have the most positive impact on the situation in the Middle East as a whole.

Thank you.

President of Iran Hassan Rouhani (retranslated): In the name of Allah, the Compassionate and the Merciful,

I would like to begin by thanking President Putin for his important initiative to hold a summit of the three countries to address peace and stability in Syria, as well as to ensure that Syrian refugees safely return to their homes.

The importance of the moment that was chosen for this meeting is that at present, our decisions can help stabilise the situation in Syria, as well as foster the progress of the Astana meetings.

ISIS bases in Syria and Iraq have mostly been destroyed and a consensus with regard to fighting terrorism has been reached in the region. Terrorism cannot be a tool for any country; under any circumstances, terrorism is a threat to countries. We are seeing that now ISIS is threatening the countries that at one time were helping it, and it is killing innocent people in these countries. This is the context in which the present meeting was held.

The meeting was very useful; we exchanged views and shared our positions. The main aim is to form the Syrian National Dialogue Congress with the participation of representatives of all sections of the Syrian population – those who support the Syrian government and those who are in opposition to it – so that they could get together, discuss Syria’s future and create conditions for developing Syria’s new Constitution. The new Constitution could serve as a basis for holding elections in Syria. This could become a message of peace and stability for the entire region. Our three countries are urging all countries in the world to facilitate peace in Syria and to provide conditions for Syrian refugees to return home, as well as for the economic recovery of the Syrian state.

We laid out our positions. All the three countries spoke in favour of holding the Syrian National Dialogue Congress here in Sochi, as well as a meeting at the level of the three countries’ foreign ministers. Representatives of our countries’ intelligence and security agencies will meet to ensure conditions are in place to hold this congress.

We hope that this congress will become a new step toward peace and stability in Syria, as well as to free elections in Syria, based on a new Constitution.

I would like once again to thank President Putin for his invitation and also thank President Erdogan for his participation in this meeting. We hope that this process, aimed at achieving peace in Syria, will continue.

President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan (retranslated):

Friends, ladies and gentlemen,

I extend my cordial greetings to you all. I would like to thank all our Russian friends as represented by my friend Mr Putin.

Our close dialogue with Russia continues both at the bilateral and regional level. We are achieving results in all areas, praise Allah. I would like to emphasise that we agree with Mr Putin that it is necessary to give additional impetus to our efforts.

During my bilateral meeting with Mr Rouhani, we came to the same conclusion – that we must continue to develop our relations in all areas.

During our meetings today, both with Mr Rouhani and Mr Putin, we had frank discussions on all agenda items. We again reviewed the measures we must take to bring about a truce in Syria. We were pleased to note that the formation of de-escalation zones played the main role in decreasing tensions.

We also discussed steps that may contribute to the Geneva process for a durable resolution of the Syrian conflict, taking into account the progress achieved at the Astana talks.

On the other hand, I would like to note that we unanimously agreed that we must support the implementation of a large-scale, free, fair and transparent political process led by the Syrian people as stipulated by UN Security Council Resolution 2254.

I would also like to note that we decided to coordinate our efforts to make a meaningful contribution to the Syrian National Dialogue Congress, which will be held at the initiative of the Russian Federation.

Our statement today is the first step reflecting the fundamental principles of our cooperation. There is no doubt in this context that we strongly believe that these positive steps should continue. The sides’ positions in this regard are key to the success of our efforts. This depends above all on the position of the government and the opposition. On the other hand, our mutual understanding and mutual respect as guarantor countries are crucial in this respect.

Our country’s priority will be to wipe out terrorist elements, which are encroaching on our country’s national security, on Syria’s political unity and territorial integrity. Nobody should expect us to stay under the same roof with a terrorist organisation that is encroaching on national security. If we state our commitment to Syria’s territorial integrity, as well as to Syria’s political unity, we cannot see the blood-stained gang that is trying to divide the country as a legitimate player.

Ladies and gentlemen, during the consultations with Mr Putin and Mr Rouhani, we emphasised the importance of confidence-building measures. To implement these measures step by step, it is necessary to provide unhindered and continuous access to humanitarian aid for people who have for many years been isolated in this respect.

I believe that the point that we have reached will be a key stage in achieving this goal. On the other hand, I also believe that our meeting will be useful and will have a positive response in this region. I invite all responsible members of the international community to support our efforts.

Thank you very much.

November 22, 2017, Sochi