Moscow, Russia. The Russian President Vladimir Putin expanded a round of talks over the war Syria on Wednesday, meeting with Turkey’s president as the Kremlin pushes a proposal to create “deconfliction zones” in Syria with American support.
Talks with Turkish Prime Minister Reçep Tayyip Erdogan reflect growing cooperation between nations once deeply at odds over Syria’s conflict, with Turkey backing rebel factions and Russia providing key military support to Syria’s Assad government.
Erdogan would have an important roll in any bid to create a safe haven area in Syria for opposition groups and Syrians displaced by more than six years of fighting. Many of the proposed sanctuary zones would be close to the Turkish-Syrian border.
The talks in the Black Sea resort of Sochi followed a flurry of discussions between Putin and Western leaders. This was followed by a telephone call with President Trump, the first between the two leaders since Trump struck a Syrian air base with 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles last month.
Putin said that he supported the creation of the safe zones, which also would ban all aircraft from the designated areas, in an effort to support a Syrian cease-fire. Putin said that his talks with Trump suggested “the American administration supports them as well.”
Russian Syrian treaty specialists have proposed that “the use of any kind of weapon in the de-escalation zones by the parties to the conflict shall be prohibited, including the planes of the Syrian armed forces.”
The Russian proposal presented to rebel leaders in Astana, Kazakhstan, the Kremlin proposed the creation of four “de-escalation zones” in Syria that would prevent direct clashes between rebel and government forces. Militant Islamist factions such as Islamic State and al-Nusra would be excluded.
Russian President Vladimir Putin noted that the countries that are guarantors of the ceasefire in Syria included, Russia, Turkey and Iran – were able to bring the conflicting parties to the negotiating table.
“Thanks largely to the active role of Russia, Turkey and Iran, it was not only possible to achieve a cease-fire between the Syrian government troops and the armed opposition, but also to seat them at the negotiating table in Astana, where the next round of talks is starting today,” Putin stated.