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6 March, 2020 00:00 00 AM
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Putin, Erdogan look to defuse Syria crisis at Moscow talks

The entire world has its eyes fixed on us: Erdogan
AFP, Moscow

The leaders of Russia and Turkey met in Moscow yesterday after a surge in fighting in Syria raised fears of their armies clashing and launched a new migrant crisis. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is hoping Russia’s Vladimir Putin will agree to a rapid ceasefire in Idlib, the northwestern province of Syria where Ankara is battling Moscow-backed government forces. “The entire world has its eyes fixed on us,” Erdogan said at the start of the talks, stressing that decisions were needed to “calm the region and our two countries”.

Putin said the situation in Idlib had become so tense that it was time for “a direct personal conversation” between them. Pointing to the losses suffered by both Turkish and Syrian forces, Putin said: “We need to talk about everything, so that nothing like this happens again and it does not destroy Russian-Turkish relations.”

Intense fighting has killed dozens of Turkish soldiers in Idlib in recent weeks, as Ankara for the first time launched a direct offensive against President Bashar al-Assad’s forces. The Syrian government’s attempt to take Idlib has forced close to a million civilians to flee their homes and prompted Erdogan to open Turkey’s border with Greece to refugees and migrants.

Turkey has demanded European Union support for its actions in Syria and some in the bloc have accused Erdogan of using migrants as “blackmail”.

Ankara wants Assad’s forces to cease their assault on the province, the last rebel stronghold in Syria, and pull back behind lines agreed under a 2018 deal with Russia brokered in Sochi.

Turkey has long backed some rebel groups fighting against Assad but its priority now is to stop another influx of refugees. The Kremlin, which launched an air war in support of Assad in 2015, sees it as a key success of Putin’s foreign policy—with newfound clout and military bases in Syria that establish Moscow as a major player in the Middle East.

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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