Putin discuss Syria with Merkel ahead of talks with Turkey
German Chancellor Angela Merkel held a phone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin, her office said late Dec. 28.
The two leaders discussed recent international developments, particularly in Syria and Ukraine, German government spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer said in a statement.
Merkel and Putin focused on the work of the guarantor countries of the Astana peace process -- Turkey, Russia and Iran -- on forming the lists of members for a Syrian constitutional committee and the U.S. decision to withdraw its troops from the country, she said.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, intelligence chief Hakan Fidan and presidential aide İbrahim Kalın were scheduled to hold talks in Moscow on Syria on Dec. 29.
Merkel also welcomed a ceasefire in the conflict area of eastern Ukraine that has been called to begin at 12:01 a.m. on Dec. 29, she added.
President Donald Trump last week made a surprise announcement that the U.S. would withdraw its troops from Syria. His decision followed a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in which the two leaders agreed on the need for more effective coordination over the civil war-torn country.
Russia and Ukraine have been at loggerheads since 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea after a controversial referendum.
Turkey, as well as the UN General Assembly, viewed the annexation as illegal.
Ukraine has also blamed Russia for separatist violence in eastern Ukraine near the border with Russia.