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UPDATE - Erdogan, Putin discuss Sochi talks, Afrin op on phone

UPDATE - Erdogan, Putin discuss Sochi talks, Afrin op on phone
Turkish, Russian leaders say outcome of Syrian National Dialogue Congress is 'important achievement' despite problems

UPDATED WITH MORE INFORMATION FROM PHONE CONVERSATION

By Nilay Kar Onum

ANKARA (AA) - The Turkish and Russian presidents on Wednesday discussed this week's Syria meeting in Sochi, the Turkish-led Operation Olive Branch, other recent developments concerning Syria, including Idlib, and bilateral ties, according to Turkish presidential sources.

The outcome of the Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Sochi is an “important achievement' despite problems, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin said during their phone conversation, the sources said.

The two also hailed the decision taken in Sochi to form a constitutional committee as its “most important outcome,” stressing that the progress made at the meeting enhances both the Astana and Geneva processes and UN Security Council resolutions.

At the congress in the southern Russian city on Monday and Tuesday -- including representatives from Syria and the guarantor countries of Russia, Iran, and Turkey -- a proposal to form a constitutional committee was agreed on.

Parties at the two-day congress also said in a final statement that they want to bring an end to the ongoing conflict in the region as soon as possible, and urged international help towards this end.

During their conversation, Erdogan and Putin agreed that Turkey would accelerate the process of setting up observation points in the northern Syrian province of Idlib, one of a number of de-escalation zones in the country.

Erdogan also briefed Putin on the ongoing Operation Olive Branch in the northwestern Syrian region of Afrin, and they also touched on the Russian-built Akkuyu nuclear power plant in Turkey and Turkish Stream pipeline projects.

Stressing the importance of bilateral understanding and cooperation, the two also confirmed their determination to strengthen bilateral relations in every area.

Turkey on Jan. 20 launched Operation Olive Branch to remove PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin, northwestern Syria, along Turkey's border.

According to the Turkish General Staff, the operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkey's borders and the region as well as to protect the Syrian people from terrorist oppression and cruelty.

The operation is being carried out under the framework of Turkey’s rights based on international law, UN Security Council resolutions, its self-defense rights under the UN charter, and respect for Syria's territorial integrity, it said.

The military also said the "utmost importance" is being put on avoiding any harm to civilians.

Afrin has been a major hideout for the PYD/PKK since July 2012 when the Assad regime in Syria left the city to the terror group without a fight.

source: News Feed
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