Wars and Military Conflicts

Putin says working with Turkey to start new Syria peace talks

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Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday he was working closely with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan to try to start a new series of Syrian peace talks aimed at securing a nationwide cease-fire.

Putin, speaking at a news conference in Japan, said the new talks, if they happened, could take place in Astana, capital of Kazakhstan, and would complement U.N.-brokered negotiations that have been taking place intermittently in Geneva.

"The next step is to reach an agreement on a total cease-fire across the whole of Syria. We are conducting very active negotiations with representatives of the armed opposition, brokered by Turkey," Putin told reporters.

He said he and Erdogan had agreed that they would propose to the Syrian government and the opposition that the new round of peace talks would take place at a new venue.

"That venue could be Astana," said Putin. "If that happens, it won't compete with the Geneva talks, but will complement them. Wherever the conflicting sides meet, in my view it is the right thing to do to try to find a political solution."

Putin said the recent evacuation of rebel fighters and their families from Aleppo was something he and Erdogan had also agreed on, and that he hoped the Syrian army would now be able to consolidate their position there and civilians could return to normal life.

Putin played down the Syrian government's loss of Palmyra to Islamic State, blaming the lack of coordination between the U.S. led coalition, the Syrian authorities, and Russia for the setback.

"Everything that is happening in Palmyra is the result of uncoordinated action. I've already said many times that to be effective in the battle against terrorism we need to unite our efforts," said Putin.

"The question of Palmyra is purely symbolic. Aleppo is much more important from a military-political point of view."

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