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  • Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan (L) attend a news conference after their meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia January 23, 2019.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan (L) attend a news conference after their meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia January 23, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 23 January 2019

Russian leader Vladimir Putin said he and Erdogan had discussed how they planned to stabilize the situation in Syria’s Idlib province.

Turkey and Russia don’t have any disagreements about a planned safe zone in northern Syria, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan told a joint news conference with Russia’s Vladimir Putin Wednesday.

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The Russian leader Vladimir Putin said the two men had discussed how they planned to stabilize the situation in Syria’s Idlib province.

Speaking in Moscow, Erdogan also said it was of crucial importance that the planned United States withdrawal from Syria does not leave room for terrorist groups to roam freely. He added Turkey and Russia would continue to battle terrorist organizations in Syria’s Idlib province.

"[We] spoke about how the U.S. leadership’s intentions to pull the U.S. troops out of Syria’s northeastern regions would affect the unfolding situation in Syria," Putin said.

Putin said the Russian and Turkish defense ministers had already held talks on specific actions that the two countries would take in Idlib and that the measures, which he didn’t describe, would now be implemented.

“Unfortunately there are many problems there and we see them,” said Putin, standing alongside Erdogan.

He said Turkey was doing a lot to try to remedy the situation, but that more action by both Ankara and Moscow was required to “liquidate the actions of terrorist groups.”

"Turkey will continue strengthening cooperation with Russia in Syria. Russia and Turkey will continue a joint fight against terrorism in Idlib in order to guarantee security for the Syrian population," Turkey's leader promised.

Putin said he had agreed to host a summit soon where Russia, Turkey, and Iran would discuss the situation in Syria. He did not name a date for the summit but said he and Erdogan had agreed on its provisional timing.

The Russian leader also complained about the difficulty of forming a U.N.-sponsored constitutional committee for Syria, saying that France, Germany, and Britain had blocked the proposed make-up of the committee in December, a move he said had come as a surprise for Moscow.

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