Russia makes proposals to Turkey on northwest Syria: Report
Russia has presented proposals to the Turkish authorities on resolving the situation in Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib, the Interfax news agency reported on Aug. 24.
According to a statement by Russia's Defense Ministry, "The heads of the military services continued a substantive dialogue on the situation in Syria, which began a week ago at a bilateral meeting in Moscow, during which the Russian side handed over to Turkish colleagues proposals on resolving the situation in the northwest of Syria."
The meeting was expected to address the issue of Idlib in northwestern Syria, a subject also addressed on Aug. 24 in a meeting in Moscow between Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.
“A military solution there will cause catastrophe,” Çavuşoğlu said at a joint press conference, referring to the situation in Syria’s last rebel-held province of Idlib.
“A solution by force in Idlib would undermine the trust between Russia and Turkey as well as the trust of the cease-fire participants,” he added.
On his part, Lavrov said he was sure Turkish and Russian presidents would “talk in detail on this topic.”
“When the de-escalation zone was created in Idlib, no one proposed using it for terrorists to hide behind the civilian population like a human shield,” he said.
The situation was “multi-faceted,” he added and called for separating out “the healthy opposition from terrorist structures.”
Putin: Serious progress in resolving Syrian crisis
Russian President Vladimir Putin met with the Turkish and Russian defense and foreign ministers, and the intelligence chiefs of both countries on Aug. 24.
"Our relations with Turkey are becoming deeper and more meaningful, becoming deeper in the field of economic cooperation, in addressing a number of issues related to regional issues," Putin said during the meeting.
In the nationally televised meeting, Putin also mentioned the "regular character" of contacts with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Russia and Turkey along with other countries have made serious progress in resolving the Syrian crisis, Putin added.
"Thanks to the efforts of our countries with the involvement of other interested states, in particular, I mean Iran, our cooperation with the UN, with European countries, with the United States - we've managed to make serious progress in resolving the Syrian crisis," he said.
Meanwhile, Russia and Turkey have agreed to establish a mechanism to restore a visa-free regime between the two countries.
Russia is ready to lift visa restrictions for the Turkish holders of special and service passports as well as for drivers engaged in cargo transportation between the two countries.
Calling Russia a “strategic partner,” Çavuşoğlu stressed the importance of further developing bilateral ties with Russia.
“We will both improve bilateral relations between the two countries for [providing] stability and economic development in the region and we will boost our cooperation on regional matters,” he said.
Without naming any country, he said that some countries and individuals were jealous of Turkey and Russia’s close cooperation and friendship.
Çavuşoğlu also expressed pleasure at the growing number of Russian tourists visiting Turkey.
“We will be very happy to welcome some 6 million of our Russian friends to our country this year,” he said.