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Putin and Erdogan set to meet in Iran with Syria on the agenda

Source tells MEE the trilateral meeting, which will also include Iran's Raisi, will focus on situation in northern Syria
A handout photograph taken and released on 29 September 2021 by the Turkish Presidential Press service shows Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) shaking hands with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) after their meeting at the Russian Official Residence of Presidency in Sochi (AFP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after their meeting in Sochi on 29 September 2021 (AFP)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is set to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Iranian capital Tehran next week, where the situation in northern Syria is likely to be high on the agenda.

A Turkish source told Middle East Eye that the trilateral meeting, which will also include Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, came at Russia's behest.

Last Friday, Russia vetoed a draft resolution at the UN Security Council that would have extended the authorisation for cross-border humanitarian aid to northwestern Syria by one year.

Instead, Moscow forced a six-month extension on the authorisation, which aid groups have warned will not be enough for the poverty-stricken region.

The UN cross-border system has been in effect since 2014 and helps more than 4.4 million people in the northwestern region, which is under the control of various armed and rebel groups opposed to the Syrian government.

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More than 4,600 aid trucks, mainly carrying food, have passed through the Bab al-Hawa crossing on the Syria-Turkey border this year, according to the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Mazen Allouche, described by AFP as an official at the border crossing, told the news agency the move embodied "the policy of siege and starvation to which Russia resorts throughout Syria".

Turkey, Russia, and Iran have in recent years been holding talks on Syria as part of the so-called "Astana peace process", which aims to finally resolve the long-running conflict in the country.

The Tehran meeting will be Putin's second visit abroad since Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February.

Putin is also set to hold separate talks with Erdogan in Tehran, according to the Kremlin, though they did not provide more details. 

On Monday, Erdogan - whose administration has long supported anti-government groups in Syria - said he had urged Russia to allow more aid into northern Syria.

"Erdogan emphasised that he attaches importance to the extension of the cross-border mechanism in Syria," his office said in a statement.

AFP contributed to this report.

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