4 nations to expand cooperation on Syria: Russia

By Elena Teslova

MOSCOW (AA) – Russia, Turkey, Germany and France intend to expand cooperation on Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday.

This intention is reflected in the joint statement, accepted by the four leaders at the quadrilateral summit in Istanbul, Putin said, speaking at a news conference following the meeting.

The four nations agreed that long-term settlement in Syria can be reached only by political and diplomatic means, he said.

Also Russia, Turkey, France and Germany are determined to keep the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Syria, Putin added.

"It is in this context that the efforts for unification of the Astana format and the 'small group on Syria' were discussed. This, in our opinion, would contribute to the beginning of a real political process in Syria," he said.

He said Russia expects Turkey to complete the withdrawal of the militants from Idlib very soon.

Putin stressed on the necessity to eliminate all radical elements in Syria, saying: "Russia reserves right to help Damascus in this affair."

He added that Russia and Turkey invited France and Germany to hold an international conference on the Syrian settlement.

Putin also expects that the Syrian constitutional committee will be formed and will start its work by end of the year.

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