Spotlight: Russia, Iran, Turkey agree to accelerate Syrian peace process
MOSCOW, Nov. 22 (Xinhua) -- The presidents of Russia, Iran and Turkey agreed on Wednesday to continue their joint efforts to facilitate the possible transition to a political settlement in Syria and restore peace and stability in the war-torn country.
"Large-scale military operations against terrorist gangs in Syria are coming to an end ... Militants in Syria suffered a decisive blow and there is a real chance to end the civil war that has lasted for years," Russian President Vladimir Putin said during a summit of the leaders of the three countries in the Russian city of Sochi.
According to the heads of state, the creation of the de-escalation zones in Syria have been quite efficient and greatly helped to reduce violence, alleviate the humanitarian suffering, curb the flow of refugees and even provide conditions for the safe return of refugees.
"The Presidents acknowledged that the 'Astana format' and its achievements have become an effective instrument for contributing to peace and stability in Syria ...Russia, Iran and Turkey would continue their coordinated efforts to ensure that the progress in reduction of violence is irreversible," said a joint statement issued after the summit.
As a result of seven rounds of meetings on the Syrian conflict in the Kazakh capital of Astana, a nationwide ceasefire regime has been established in Syria, of which Russia, Iran and Turkey are guarantors, and four de-escalation zones are operating in key regions of the country.
"It can be stated with certainty that we have reached a new stage that opens the door to a real political settlement process," Putin said.
In particular, the three presidents expressed their support for "a broad intra-Syrian dialogue" among all segments of Syrian society, calling on representatives of the Syrian government and the opposition to participate constructively in the upcoming forum of the Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Sochi, according to the joint statement.
The Syrian National Dialogue Congress, proposed by Moscow in late October at Astana talks in Kazakhstan for Syrian settlement, is expected to bring together opposition and pro-government forces, as well as representatives of all Syrian ethnic and religious groups to work for the peace process in the country.
"We have reached a consensus on helping the transition to an inclusive, free, fair and transparent political process that will be carried out under the leadership and ownership of the Syrian people," Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.
The presidents also underlined the need for all Syrian parties to take confidence-building measures, including the release of prisoners and hostages, the handover bodies and the identification of missing persons in order to "create better condition for political process and lasting ceasefire," the statement said.
Noting that the Syrian crisis has been accompanied by foreign intervention since the beginning, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that the international community should keep out of the internal affairs of the country in the future.
"The people of Syria will not allow foreigners to interfere in their domestic affairs. Naturally, they will resist any attempts to encroach on their national sovereignty, territorial integrity, unity and independence," he said.
In the meantime, the leaders called upon members of the international community to support the process of de-escalation and stabilization in Syria, by providing aid, facilitating de-mining, preserving historical heritage and restoring infrastructure assets including social and economic facilities.
The presidents also expressed their readiness to meet again over the Syrian settlement if necessary, the statement added.
The Syrian armed conflict broke out in 2011 and quickly turned into a full-fledged war. So far, the Syria war has killed more than 330,000 people and displaced millions.
On Tuesday, first deputy chairman of the Russian Federation Council's Defense and Security committee Frants Klintsevich said that the fight against Islamic State terrorist group in Syria will possibly be over by the end of the year.