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Russia and Turkey are set to discuss new ideas on Syria, Kremlin says

Last modified: 5 Dec 2012 22:28

Russian and Turkish diplomats will soon start working on new ideas for ending the conflict in Syria which emerged in talks between President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Tayyip Ardogan, the Kremlin said on Wednesday.

Putin and Erdogan agreed to differ on Syria at Monday's talks in Istanbul but Russia has distanced itself from President Bashar al-Assad and tried to position itself for his potential exit from power.

Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, confirmed diplomats would discuss what Putin said were "some new, fresh ideas" but gave no details.

"It was agreed that these ideas will be discussed in more detail by our diplomats in the very near future, in order to understand how viable they are and how great their potential to resolve (the Syrian crisis)," Peskov said.

"It is still unclear to what degree they might be acceptable to the sides in Syria itself," he told reporters on the sidelines of a summit of the post-Soviet Commonwealth of Independent States in Turkmenistan's capital, Ashgabat.

Russia has shielded Assad by blocking, along with China, three UN Security Council resolutions aimed at pushing him out or pressing him to end violence that has killed more than 40,000 people since a crackdown on protests began in March 2011.

Turkey - worried about Syria's chemical weapons, a growing refugee crisis, and Syrian support for Kurdish fighters – has backed the Syrian opposition and led calls for international action against Assad.

After talks with Erdogan, Putin said Russia and Turkey still disagreed about how to end the crisis in Syria.  

Russian officials have repeatedly said Moscow is not insisting Assad remain in power, but that his fate must not be decided by foreign governments or other external forces, including the UN Security Council.

"The exit or the continuation of the Assad regime is absolutely not a must," Peskov said.

"But we cannot say, sitting in Ankara or London or Qatar, that Assad must go. That cannot be, it  is not viable – such decisions could potentially lead to a worsening of the situation," he said. 

[Reuters]