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Putin Speaks To Erdogan to Renew Call For Astana Syria Talks

Putin calls on the phone
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks on the phone while inspecting transport infrastructure facilities in southern Russia, on board a helicopter in Novorossiysk, Russia, August 20, 2015. Mikhail Klimentyev/RIA Novosti/Kremlin /Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke to his Turkish counterpart to discuss a potential meeting between the Syrian government and opposition, facilitated by both of them in Kazakhstan.

The Russian government has become a central advocate in convincing international powers to include Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in talks about resolving the Syrian conflict—something that many Western leaders have been reluctant to do, as they maintain that Assad’s brutal tactics should play no part in a post-war government.

While it is a formal U.S. ally, Turkey has showed openness to cooperate more with Russia, since the Russian military’s support for Assad has Moscow’s troops operating near the Turkish border.

Putin spoke with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday to express condolences over Saturday’s attack in the Turkish city of Kayseri, the Kremlin announced, but also raised the issue of Syria and renewed the invite for Erdogan to help organise a summit in Russian-allied Kazakhstan.

Putin first extended the invite for Erdogan, the Syrian government and opposition to meet in Kazakhstan l ast week while on a trip to Japan, and it is not clear what Ankara’s position is. Unlike the previous diplomatic effort in Switzerland, Russia’s new suggestion does not involve the U.S. and U.N., both of whom have been critical of Russia’s backing for Assad.

Turkish state news agency Anadolu cited a presidential aide, speaking on the condition of anonymity, confirming that the call took place and that the two discussed “contacts they made with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev” as well as the need for “joint efforts [that] should be intensified for a political solution.”