Iran, Russia, Syria, Turkey deputy FMs to meet next week in possible step towards Assad regime normalisation
The deputy foreign ministers of Iran, Russia, Syria and Turkey will meet in Moscow early next week, Iranian and Turkish officials said on Tuesday, in what could mark another step towards Ankara-Damascus reconciliation.
The four diplomats will discuss the situation on the ground in Syria from 3 to 4 April in the Russian capital, Reuters reported a senior Turkish official as saying.
It follows growing normalisation in the region after most Arab countries broke ties with the Syrian regime following its brutal crackdown on peaceful protesters in 2011.
"This meeting is expected to be a continuation of the ministerial-level meetings that began during the normalisation process," the official said.
"However, since there will be no ministerial-level participation and the meeting will be at a technical level, significant decisions are not expected."
Syrian and Turkish representatives took part in Russia-mediated talks last year to discuss a possible reconciliation.
The discussions were met with strong opposition from Syrians in the Turkish-held north of the country, an area that is home to millions of people who have been displaced by more than a decade of war.
Confirmation of the meeting date follows discussions between diplomats from the four countries on sticking points that had prevented further negotiations between Syria and Turkey, pro-Syrian regime outlet Al Watan reported on Tuesday.
This included Turkey's military presence in northern Syria, according to Al-Watan.
Russian Deputy FM Mikhail Bogdanov announced earlier this month that Moscow had been coordinating a meeting between Iran, Russia, Syria and Turkey, but that a date had not yet been set. Iran and Russia are the main backers of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and his regime.
Bogdanov told Russian state media outlet Sputnik on Monday that the meeting would take place some time in early April.
Syria-Turkey reconciliation efforts come amid a regional push to normalise ties with the Assad regime which gained momentum following the deadly earthquake which struck southern Turkey and northern Syria last February.
Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed earlier this month to resume diplomatic relations, and it is thought Riyadh will next be normalising ties with Damascus.
Syrian regime officials have met with several Arab diplomats in recent months.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke on the phone over the weekend, discussing in part the normalisation of Syria-Turkey relations.
Reuters contributed to this report