Russian, Iranian and Turkish foreign ministers on Saturday talked up their successes in brokering a political solution to the Syrian conflict at a meeting in Moscow.
The three nations have been attempting to resolve the Syrian conflict at talks that started last year in Astana, Kazakhstan, in competition with a US and UN-backed Geneva initiative.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the three countries “must help the Syrians finish cleansing their country of terrorists.”
The ministers emphasised the success of their peace talks in Astana, which Lavrov said are “firmly standing on their feet.”
The Russian diplomat praised the “unique” alliance between two of Syrian President Bashar-al Assad’s key supporters, Moscow and Tehran, and rebel-backer Ankara.
“Thanks to it, it became possible to tackle the situation on the battlefield with the Islamic State group and the Al-Nusra Front,” he said, as jihadists have lost most of the territory they controlled in Syria.
The conflict in Syria has lasted since 2011 and killed more than 350,000 people. Both Russia and Iran have deployed forces to Syria to back up Assad against anti-government rebels.
Critics of the Astana talks are “trying to show that they today decide all the affairs in our world, but fortunately their time has passed,” Lavrov said.
Nevertheless he implicitly criticised Damascus after it blocked UN humanitarian aid to the town of Douma in Eastern Ghouta, saying Moscow was calling for the regime to be more “flexible.”
The Russian foreign minister earlier held separate bilateral talks with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu and then Iran’s Mohammad Javad Zarif.
Meeting his Turkish counterpart, the Russian diplomat stressed the “great importance” both Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attach to improving relations.
The latest talks in Moscow came as the alleged chemical attack in the Syrian town of Douma on April 7 has prompted sharply differing responses from Turkey and Russia.
“I curse those who carried out this massacre,” Erdogan said, while Russia says the attack was staged to discredit Assad.