Russia: Turkey, Syria ready to negotiate; US could return to Astana
Russia's special presidential envoy for Syria, Alexander Lavrentyev, tells reporters that there are hopes for a Syrian-Turkish rapprochement and for the US to return to the Astana format.
Russia is receiving indications from Ankara and Damascus about being open to making steps towards one another and about hopes for a Syrian-Turkish rapprochement, Russia's special presidential envoy for Syria, Alexander Lavrentyev, told reporters on Wednesday following the 19th round of the Astana talks on Syria.
"We hope that we will gradually witness a certain Syrian-Turkish rapprochement, this is simply necessary because these are two neighboring states that should live in friendship. I think that the signals that we have regarding both Turkey and Syria's readiness to take certain steps towards each other, these are steps in the right direction, which will prevent such tragic incidents related to the death of civilians," Lavrentyev said.
Moscow believes the Kurds were "given the go-ahead" to carry out a terrorist attack in Istanbul, he added.
"We cannot say that these terrorist attacks, behind which, as our Turkish partners told us, is the PKK, are some kind of initiative on the part of this structure. Probably, after all, some kind of go-ahead was given to them," he said at a press conference.
US could return to Astana Format
The United States could return to the Astana format and participate in it as before, Lavrentyev said during a press conference following the results of the 19th international meeting on Syria in the Astana format. This would be a very good step, he added.
"We believe that the involvement of other countries in the work in the Astana format is indeed very useful. And here we are talking not only about China, we are ready to consider the candidacies of other countries for participation. As you know, at the initial stage, when the first international meeting on Syria, when it was being prepared here in Astana, there were Americans as observers, there was the European Union, a number of European countries that sat at this table listened attentively to everyone, with whom we held detailed consultations on our further actions," he said.
"Of course, I believe that if the Americans returned to the Astana format, it would also be very useful, if two countries like the United States and China were present as observers in the Astana format, it would be a very good step, a good signal both for the international community and for the direction of the Syrian settlement in general," Lavrentyev added.
On November 13, an explosion occurred in a busy area in the heart of Istanbul, killing six people and injuring 81. The Turkish Interior Ministry reported suspicions it was a terrorist attack, and the perpetrator had entered Turkey through the city of Afrin. The suspect in the attack was detained, and she confessed to having links with the PKK.