(MENAFN- AzerNews) By Kamila Aliyeva
Sochi - Russia'sBlack Sea resort city - hosted a trilateral meeting of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Russian President Vladimir Putin on November 22.
Wednesday's talks followed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's surprise visit to Russia on Monday for talks with Putin.
The meeting, which lasted two hours, between the three powers, all deeply involved in the Syrian conflict, is set to pave the way for a settlement of the conflict and define Syria's future as a country.
By hosting the meeting, Russia decided to take the central role in a major diplomatic push to finally end a civil war and try to leave its ally - Bashar al-Assad - in power.
Large-scale hostilities against terrorists are coming to an end, thanks to the efforts of the Russian Federation, Iran, and Turkey, it became possible to prevent the disintegration of Syria, Putin said, opening a trilateral meeting.
The Russian leader stated that the militants in Syria suffered a decisive blow, and that 'there was a real chance to end the long-term civil war.
Putin further noted the special role of the Presidents of Turkey and Iran in the Astana process, as without their participation a political settlement in Syria would be impossible.
'Less than a year ago, we initiated the Astana process, assumed the responsibility to guarantee the implementation of agreements, promote the intra-Syrian dialogue under the auspices of the UN, he said.
Putin noted that Astana gathered representatives of the government and the armed opposition at one table for the first time.
The Russian leader also said that following seven rounds of meetings, the fateful decisions for Syria have been adopted and are being implemented: the ceasefire regime is being observed, four zones of de-escalation have been established and are functioning in key regions of the country.
Putin also expressed hope that Russia, Iran and Turkey will make every effort for the effectiveness of the National Dialogue Congress.
The three-way summit endorsed the plan for a Syrian National Dialogue Congress to be held inRussiain December. The meeting is intended to help frame a constitution for an integrated Syria, including the terms of presidential elections in which Assad would be entitled to stand.
'The Syrian people will have to determine their own future and agree on the principles of the state system. It is obvious that the process of reform will not be easy, and it will require compromises and concessions from all its participants, including, of course, the government of Syria. I hope that Russia, Iran and Turkey together will attach the most active efforts to make this work as productive as possible, the Russian leader said.
In addition, Putin suggested thinking about the joint development of a comprehensive program for the restoration of Syria.
'Given the colossal scale of destruction, it would be possible to think together about the development of a long-term comprehensive program for the revival of Syria, he suggested.
Putin expressed confidence that the success of the upcoming reforms will largely depend on the solution of the social and economic problems of Syria, the restoration of industry, agriculture, infrastructure, health and education systems.
The humanitarian aspect, including targeted assistance to the population, demining of the liberated territories, rendering assistance in the return of refugees is equally important, according to the Russian leader.
He also noted that after the creation of de-escalation zones, thousands of refugees have already begun to return to their homes.
Speaking about the creation of a comprehensive program for the revival of Syria, the Russian leader said that experts from Russia, Turkey and Iran have conducted serious preparatory work on the meaningful filling of the talks.
'Therefore, I am confident that the discussion will be substantive and effective, and the agreements reached will serve to further restore peace and security in Syria, strengthen its sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity, will help to stabilize the situation in the Middle East, the Russian head of state concluded.
Russia, Turkey and Iran have to concentrate their efforts on long-term normalization in Syria and the country's reconstruction in the post-war period, he stressed.
'We can confidently say that we have approached a new stage that opens the door to a real political settlement process. I believe that our efforts should be focused on ensuring long-term normalization in Syria, first of all, I mean the process of political settlement with the finalization of these negotiations within the framework of the Geneva process and on the promotion of the settlement of the country in the post-conflict period," Putin said.
He stressed that the meeting is aimed at solving this particular task. The participants will discuss in detail further joint steps to consolidate and develop the recent positive changes in Syria.
Putin added that the participants in the trilateral meeting will exchange views on how to give a powerful impetus to the political settlement on the basis of UN Security Council Resolution 2254. He recalled that this document envisages the launching of a broad intra-Syrian dialogue involving all ethnic, confessional and political groups of the population, without exception.
In the course of the talks, Rouhani said the main foundations of the Islamic State terrorist group (IS aka ISIS/ISIL) have collapsed, but the fight against terrorism is not yet over. He added that fighting against terrorism is necessary in Syria until eradicating all its cells in the country. Moreover, Rouhani argued it was 'unacceptable for foreign troops not invited into Syria by the government to remain in the country.
The Iranian president further said that grounds are prepared for political settlement in Syria. The Syrian national sovereignty should be respected, Rouhani said, adding that interference of foreign powers in the country would not be legitimate.
Those who created, funded the IS terrorist group in the Middle East will face repercussions of terrorism, he said. Rouhani also emphasized that the Islamic Republic will stand against 'plots to create split in the Middle East.
Iran is acting based on UN regulations to ensure stability and security of the region, he said, adding that Iran is serious in fighting against terrorism. The Iranian president further called on international community to focus on alleviating the suffering of Syrian people and reconstruction of the country.
Erdogan, in turn, hailed a key meeting on the fate of Syria.
'We have agreed on an inclusive, free, fair and transparent political process under the leadership of the Syrian people, he said at the end of the summit.
The stance of the Syrian regime and the opposition will play a key role in the future of the political process, Erdogan said, adding that Turkey would not accept existence of 'terrorist groups in Syria in the process, in an open reference to the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG).
'No one should expect us to be under the same roof with terror organizations that target our national security, he said. The Turkish leader also said the steps for the ceasefire were reviewed.
In a joint statement which followed the talks, the three sides called on the Syrian government and moderate opposition to 'participate constructively in the planned congress, to be held in the same city.
However, the date and the list of invitees were not specified. The list of participants has been a sticking point, with Turkey which objected the participation of some Syrian Kurdish groups.
Turkey, which backs the opposition, and Russia and Iran, which support Bashar Assad, are the guarantor countries who brokered a December ceasefire in Syria, that led to the Astana talks aimed at strengthening the ceasefire.
Astana talks also involve Kazakhstan - as an organizing country, sides to the Syrian conflict - governmental and opposition, and observers from the U.S., United Nations and Jordan.
To date, seven rounds of negotiations on the ongoing Syrian conflict were held in Astana.
The seventh international meeting focused on approving the provision on a working group on the release of hostages, prisoners, the transfer of bodies of the dead and the search for missing persons. The parties also considered combating international terrorism and humanitarian demining in Syria.
Guarantors of a nationwide Syrian ceasefire regime - Russia, Turkey and Iran - had agreed on May 4 in the Kazakh capital, Astana, to establish "de-escalation zones" in war-torn Syria. De-escalation zones in Syria allowed to significantly reduce the scale of the conflict and contributed to the improvement of the humanitarian situation in Syria.
While the Astana process is separate from the UN's Geneva talks on Syrian crisis, the attendance of the UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura links the Kazakh platform to broader international efforts.
Syria has been locked in civil war since March 2011. All previous efforts to achieve a diplomatic solution were ruined, with the opposition demanding Assad leave power, the government insisting he stay on, and neither side able to force the issue by achieving a military victory.
According to UN's special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, around 500,000 people have died in the conflict while half the population has been driven from their homes.