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Large-scale combat actions against terrorists in Syria nearing end – Putin
Large-scale combat actions against terrorists are coming to an end and the efforts of Russia, Iran and Turkey have helped to prevent Syria's breakup, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday opening a trilateral meeting in Sochi.
"The large-scale combat actions against terror groups in Syria are coming to an end," Putin said. "I note that the efforts of Russia, Iran and Turkey have helped to prevent Syria's breakup, not allow its takeover by international terrorists and avoid a humanitarian crisis."
The Russian leader noted that a decisive blow had been dealt to militants in Syria, and "a real chance has emerged to end the civil war that has raged for many years."
Putin thanked his counterparts for accepting the invitation and coming to Sochi to discuss further joint efforts on the Syrian track.
The Astana process
Putin has pointed to a special role played by the Turkish and Iranian Presidents Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Hassan Rouhani in the Astana process, a political settlement in Syria would be impossible without their participation.
"Less than a year ago, we initiated the launch of the Astana process undertaking to guarantee the implementation of the agreements and promote the UN-brokered intra-Syrian dialogue," Putin said.
"I want to note a special role played by the Turkish president and the Iranian president. If it were not for your stance, the Astana process would have not existed, there would be no cessation of hostilities, no ceasefire, no de-escalation zones," the Russian leader said.
Putin noted that representatives of the government and the armed opposition had been brought together at the negotiating table in Astana for the first time. The Russian leader added that some fateful decisions for Syria had been made after seven rounds of consultations. The ceasefire is being observed, and four de-escalation zones have been set up and are functioning in the country's key regions.
The Syrian National Dialog Congress
Putin hopes that Russia, Iran and Turkey will exert the maximum efforts for making the Syrian National Dialog Congress effective enough.
"The Syrian people are to shape their future and to agree on the principles of statehood on their own," Putin said. "It is clear that the reform process will be a no easy one. It will require compromises and concessions by all partakers, including the Syrian government, of course. I do hope that Russia, Iran and Turkey will take concerted action to make this work productive to the maximum extent."
He recalled that the idea of convening a National Dialogue Congress, supported by Russia, Turkey and Iran, was expected to launch a wide intra-Syrian dialogue. The congress will be held in Sochi.
"I suggest discussing the parameters of this forum today," Putin said.
The program of rebuilding Syria
Putin suggested that the three countries should think about jointly developing a comprehensive plan to rebuild Syria.
"Considering the huge scope of destruction, we could jointly think about elaborating a long-term comprehensive program of rebuilding Syria," the Russian president said.
Putin said he was confident the success of upcoming transformations would largely depend on the solution of Syria's social and economic problems and the restoration of its industry, agriculture, infrastructure, healthcare and education systems.
No less important is the humanitarian aspect, including targeted aid to the population, mine clearance on liberated territories and assistance in the return of refugees, the Russian president said.
Putin noted that thousands of refugees had already started returning to their homes after de-escalation zones had been set up in Syria.
Speaking about the elaboration of the comprehensive program of rebuilding Syria, the Russian leader said that experts from Russia, Turkey and Iran had carried out tremendous preparatory work for substantive talks.
"That is why, I am confident that the discussion will be detailed and productive and the accords reached will contribute to further restoring peace and security in Syria, strengthening its sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity and help stabilize the situation in the Middle East," the Russian president said.
Long-term normalization in Syria
Russia, Turkey and Iran should team up to get the situation back to normal in Syria and to assist in the country's development after the war, according to Putin.
"We can state with confidence that we have reached a new stage opening the door for a real political process," Putin said. "I believe that our efforts should be concentrated on long-tern normalization in Syria. I especially mean the political solution aimed to finalize the talks within the framework of Geneva process and to help develop the country in the post-conflict period."
The Russian head of state underlined that Wednesday's summit was expected to solve this task. The presidents are to discuss their future joint steps aimed at strengthening and promoting recent positive changes in Syria.
The three presidents would share views on how to give maximum impetus to the political process basing on the United Nations Security Council's Resolution 2254, he added. The document envisages a nationwide dialogue in Syria involving people from all walks of life, of all ethnic, confessional and political backgrounds, without exception.
[Source: Itar Tass, Sochi, 22Nov17]
War in Syria
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