The leaders of Russia and Turkey on Wednesday publicly re-affirmed their commitment to working together to end the conflict in Syria, despite a gas attack on a Syrian city that tested their fragile alliance. Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan, both subject to mounting criticism from Western governments over their rights records, have formed a pact on Syria despite backing rival sides in the civil conflict there.
They met on Wednesday in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi, their first meeting since a deadly April 4 chemical attack on the Syrian city of Khan Sheikhoun.
Erdogan at the time blamed the attack on Russia’s ally, the Syrian government, while Putin suggested the attack had been faked to discredit Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Speaking to reporters after their talks, Putin and Erdogan said they were still focused on working together to end the conflict in Syria, which has turned the country into a breeding ground for violent militant groups.
“We stand by our Russian friends in the fight against terror,” Erdogan said at a joint press conference, standing alongside Putin.
Both leaders said they would maintain their support for a stop-start peace process, based in the Kazakh city of Astana, in which Moscow, Ankara and Tehran are co-sponsors. —Reuters