Turkey, Russia, Qatar push for political resolution in Syria

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Turkey, Russia and Qatar are making a joint attempt to promote a political solution to Syria’s 10-year conflict, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said.

“Today we launched a new trilateral consultation process,” Cavusoglu said on Thursday after talks in Doha with Russian and Qatari foreign ministers. “Our goal is to discuss how we can contribute to efforts towards a lasting political solution in Syria.”

All three ministers emphasised in their meeting that the only solution to the conflict, in which hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and millions displaced, was not a military solution, but a political settlement in line with United Nations resolutions, he said.

In a joint statement after the talks, the ministers also reaffirmed their commitment to “preserving the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity” of Syria.

Turkey and Qatar have backed fighters who sought to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while Moscow provided military support which helped al-Assad seize back most of the country.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the three countries were not seeking to replace efforts which Turkey, Russia and Iran had jointly been making since 2017 to reduce fighting in Syria and discuss a political solution.

“I can only welcome Qatar’s desire to make its contribution to creating the conditions for overcoming the current tragic situation in Syria,” he said.

Syrian suffering

Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said the ministers had also discussed mechanisms for delivering humanitarian aid across the whole of Syria, adding “there is a crucial need to lessen the suffering of the Syrians”.

He said the reasons for Syria’s suspension from the Arab League in 2011 remain, while Cavusoglu said recent international engagement with al-Assad’s government hindered efforts for a political solution by giving it more legitimacy.

In their nine-point joint statement, the ministers urged UN agencies and the World Health Organization to prioritise COVID-19 vaccinations inside Syria and to “enhance” efforts for delivering humanitarian aid.

Cavusoglu said Turkey would host the next round of the talks.