Before heading to Russia to meet Vladimir Putin, Turkey's president suggests Moscow and Washington 'should pull their troops out' of Syria
By Middle East Eye
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan took swipes at US and Russian intervention in Syria on Monday and said if the countries truly believed a military solution was impossible, they should withdraw their troops.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Donald Trump said in a joint statement on Saturday they would continue to fight against the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria, while agreeing that there was no military solution to the country's wider, six-year-old conflict.
"I am having trouble understanding these comments," Erdogan told reporters before flying to Russia for talks with Putin. "If a military solution is out of the question, then those who say this should pull their troops out.
"Then a political method should be sought in Syria, ways to head into elections should be examined... We will discuss these with Putin," he said.
Later, after more than four hours of talks with Putin in the southern Russian resort of Sochi, Erdogan said the two leaders had agreed to focus on a political solution to the conflict.
Putin said Russia would continue to work on Syria with Turkey and their efforts were yielding results. "The level of violence has definitely been reduced, favourable conditions are being created for the progression of an inter-Syrian dialogue."
Neither leader went into more specific detail. Asked if the two discussed Erdogan's earlier comments, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the talks were about more complex issues which could not be made public, according to RIA news agency.
"The United States said it would completely leave Iraq, but it didn't. The world is not stupid, some realities are being told differently and practised differently," he said.
He said the United States had 13 bases in Syria and Russia had five.