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Russia, Iran, Turkey Set To Meet In Sochi For Syria Discussions

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Russia, Iran, and Turkey, co-sponsors of Syrian peace talks held periodically in Kazakhstan, will meet on July 30-31 in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi to discuss issues related to the seven-year-long civil war.

The Russian Foreign Ministry on July 29 said representatives will discuss issues regarding the formation of a Syrian constitutional committee, the de-escalation zones established in Syria, and humanitarian issues.

The state-run TASS news agency said the Russian delegation will be headed by the Kremlin’s special envoy to Syria, Aleksandr Lavrentyev. Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Ansari and his Turkish counterpart, Sedat Onal, will also participate.

TASS said the UN special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, along with Jordanian representatives will also attend as observers. It added that U.S. officials chose not to participate.

While backing separate sides in the Syrian conflict, Turkey, Russia, and Iran launched a negotiations process last year in the Kazakh capital, Astana, mainly dealing with battlefield issues, such as cease-fires and de-escalation zones.

A separate UN-led round of talks addressing political issues has taken place in Geneva.

The Sochi gathering comes as Turkey announced on July 29 that it is planning to hold a summit with France, Germany, and Russia in early September to discuss the Syrian conflict and other regional issues.

In comments published by Turkish media on July 29, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the meeting would take place in Istanbul on September 7.

The Turkish leader gave no details about the issues on the agenda, but he said Turkey would continue dialogue with Russia, “outside of this foursome,” according to the Hurriyet daily.

There was no immediate confirmation by Moscow, Paris, or Berlin.

Russia, along with Iran, has given Syrian President Bashar al-Assad crucial support throughout the seven-year war in Syria, which has killed hundreds of thousands of people and uprooted millions.

Turkey backs rebel groups fighting Assad’s government, while the United States, France, and Germany also back rebel groups, although not always the same groups as Turkey.

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.

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