Turkish and Iranian officials announced on Tuesday that the deputy foreign ministers of Syria, Turkey, Iran, and Russia will convene in Moscow in April to discuss the situation in Syria. This meeting builds on the previous contacts between Ankara and Damascus, which were encouraged by Russia, and aimed to normalize ties between states that had been on opposing sides of Syria’s 12-year-long conflict. Although Syrian and Turkish officials met last year, President Bashar al-Assad has ruled out any meeting with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan until Turkey withdraws its military from northern Syria.
The upcoming meeting in Moscow will be at a technical level and will primarily focus on discussing the situation on the ground in Syria. The Turkish official said that the meeting is expected to be a continuation of the ministerial-level meetings that began during the normalization process, but significant decisions are not expected. A previously planned meeting of the four countries’ deputy foreign ministers scheduled in March was postponed.
In December, Russia hosted a meeting of the Syrian and Turkish defense ministers, which expanded the original tripartite talks to include Iran. The inclusion of Iran, which supports the rapprochement, was welcomed by Russia. Turkey has backed the Syrian opposition and sent forces into much of northern Syria during the war. Erdogan, who once called Assad a terrorist, is facing a significant political challenge in May when Turks vote in what is expected to be a tight election. A Syrian source confirmed that the meeting between the deputy foreign ministers would take place soon but did not specify a date.