Four nations agree on roadmap to mend Turkey-Syria ties

Turkey, Syria, Iran and Russia agreed on Wednesday to set up a roadmap to improve relations between Damascus and Ankara after more than a decade of strained ties between the two neighbors.
The foreign ministers of the four countries agreed to task their deputies with putting together the roadmap, in coordination with the defense ministers and security services of the four countries, a joint statement said.
The meeting marked the highest-level contact between Ankara and Damascus since the start of the foreign-backed war over a decade ago.
“The ministers noted the positive and constructive atmosphere of the exchange of views and agreed to continue high-level contacts and technical talks in the quadripartite format in the coming period,” the statement said.
The statement added that they called for more international aid to Syria, not only to help the country’s struggling population but also “in the interests of voluntary, safe, and dignified” refugee returns and postwar reconstruction.
Turkey severed its relations with Syria in March 2012, a year after the Arab country found itself in the grip of deadly violence waged by foreign-backed militants.
Addressing the meeting, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said any political solution for issues related to Syria must take into consideration Syria’s full sovereignty over its territory, adding that Turkey can play a key role in this regard.
He said Syria’s neighbors, especially Turkey, can cooperate with the Arab country so that it would be able to gain full control over its national sovereignty “because it will be in favor of Syria’s stability and security and is also in line with security and border stability of the neighboring countries.”
The top Iranian diplomat added that the deployment of the Syrian Army on the borders and the establishment of security in cooperation with the neighbors can allay the security concerns of Ankara and other neighboring countries and prevent the activities of terrorists and separatists.
“We deeply believe that these two countries can put the past behind them and, by looking to the future, resolve their bilateral issues through dialogue and deepening cooperation based on good neighborliness,” he said.
Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad also said that Syria and Turkey “share goals and common interests.” He said that “despite all the negatives over the past years,” Damascus saw the talks as an opportunity “for both governments to cooperate with the help and support of our friends, Russia and Iran.”
Yet Mekdad added that the Syrian government’s “main goal” was to end all “illegal” military presences in the country, including that of Turkish forces.
The agreement comes a week after Syria and Arab governments meeting in Jordan agreed to establish a roadmap of their own to resolve Syria’s lengthy war and bolster ties. Syria has been returning to the Arab fold and slowly restoring ties with its neighbors.


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