Putin says Russia, Turkey, Iran see US pullout from Syria as ‘positive step’
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Putin says Russia, Turkey, Iran see US pullout from Syria as ‘positive step’

Iranian President Rouhani suggests he doesn’t believe US withdrawal will happen, but it’ll be ‘very good news’ if it does

Russian President Vladimir Putin (C), Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani pose prior to a trilateral meeting on Syria in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on February 14, 2019. (Sergei Chirikov/Pool/AFP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin (C), Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani pose prior to a trilateral meeting on Syria in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on February 14, 2019. (Sergei Chirikov/Pool/AFP)

SOCHI, Russia — Moscow, Ankara and Tehran see the planned US withdrawal from Syria as a positive step, Russian President Vladimir Putin said after a summit with his Turkish and Iranian counterparts on Thursday.

Putin, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iran’s Hassan Rouhani agreed the US pullout from northeastern Syria “would be a positive step that would help stabilize the situation in this region, where ultimately the legitimate government should re-establish control,” the Russian leader told a joint press conference.

The leaders of the three countries — who have positioned themselves as the key foreign players in Syria’s long-running war — were meeting for talks on how to work more closely together in resolving the conflict.

Putin said the talks were “constructive and business-like” and that “close coordination” was crucial to ensuring long-term stability in Syria.

He said the three agreed to “strengthen cooperation” in the so-called Astana framework — a process initiated by Russia, Iran and Turkey that has eclipsed parallel peace talks led by the United Nations.

This photo taken on January 31, 2019, shows US armored military vehicles patrolling in the countryside of Syria’s eastern Deir Ezzor province. (Delil Souleiman/AFP)

They also agreed to work together to set up a constitutional committee that would work to resolve Syria’s political future, Putin said, adding that another round of talks would take place in Astana in late March and early April.

Rouhani said Thursday’s talks were “very helpful and frank” and insisted on Syria’s territorial integrity, calling for a “purge of terrorists” from the rebel-held northwestern province of Idlib.

He also suggested he didn’t believe the US was planning to withdraw from Syria.

“We have no optimism about what the Americans say… but if they do withdraw, it will be very good news.”

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