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Russia offers roadmap to mend Syria-Turkey ties

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Russia on Wednesday proposed a roadmap to normalize ties between Syria and Turkey at the first meeting of their foreign ministers since the start of the Syrian civil war over a decade ago, Agence France-Presse reported.

“Our task is to determine the general guidelines for further progress,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at the meeting that also included Iran’s top diplomat.

“The best result of our discussion today would be an agreement to instruct experts to prepare a draft roadmap for Syrian-Turkish normalization for the next ministerial meeting,” he said.

Lavrov said this proposal could then be put to the leaders of Russia, Iran, Syria and Turkey.

Turkey supported early rebel efforts to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, keeping a military presence in northern stretches of the war-torn country that angers Damascus.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has made up with former rivals across the region and is now courting a presidential summit with Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad.

Lavrov also said Syria and Turkey should begin discussions on repairing transport and logistics “and resuming trade and economic cooperation without any barriers.”

Kremlin mediation would give President Vladimir Putin diplomatic clout with Russia isolated internationally over Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine.

Damascus is a staunch ally of Moscow, which intervened in the civil war in 2015, launching air strikes to support the government’s struggling forces.

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