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August 17, 2018 12:36 pm

Tehran Regime to Host Turkey’s Erdogan and Russia’s Putin for Heads of State Summit

avatar by Ben Cohen and Agencies

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Iranian President Hasan Rouhani (l) with Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russia’s Vladimir Putin. Photo: Reuters / Umit Bektas.

Russia’s presidential office has announced that President Vladimir Putin will fly to Tehran in early September for a summit meeting with his Turkish and Iranian counterparts.

The exact date for the summit would be released once “the three presidents’ schedules are agreed on through diplomatic channels,” Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday.

In a separate briefing, Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said the parley would be held in the first week of September.

The talks between Putin, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will focus on the war in Syria, although growing US economic pressure on both the Turkish and Iranian governments is likely to be discussed.

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In Iran’s case, the US aims to have a full range of punishing sanctions in place by Nov. 4, including a ban on transactions with Iran’s central bank, while in the case of Turkey — which continues to hold the American pastor Andrew Brunson in prison — the US has sanctioned two senior government ministers and placed new tariffs on imports in recent weeks.

The three leaders last met in April, under the rubric of the diplomatic “Astana process,” at the height of a Turkish offensive in northwestern Syria against Kurdish forces. At a joint news conference following that meeting in Ankara, Putin, Erdogan and Rouhani collectively affirmed their role as “guarantors of the ceasefire in Syria” — sending a message to the US administration that its role in the war-ravaged country had effectively been marginalized.

Putin and Erdogan will also hold separate bilateral talks while in Tehran next month, Peskov, the Russian president’s spokesman, said. He added that a planned Sept. 7 meeting on Syria between France, Germany, Turkey and Russia was no longer scheduled. “There is no such a meeting coordinated on the agenda,” Peskov said.

While the three-way summit in Tehran has been planned for several months, it will take on an added urgency given the US announcement on Thursday that an Iran Action Group is now driving President Donald Trump’s administration’s policy toward Tehran.

At the heart of the strategy are the twelve demands made of Iran by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a May 21 speech — delivered two weeks after Trump announced America’s withdrawal from the July 2015 nuclear deal and the reimposition of tough sanctions on the Tehran regime — that include a verifiable end to Iranian support for terrorist groups like Hezbollah and Hamas, and a halting of the regime’s ballistic missile program.

Separately, Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, will discuss arms control treaties and Iran‘s role in Syria in talks with Russian counterpart Nikolai Patrushev in Geneva next week, an administration official said on Thursday.

The meeting is a follow-up to Trump’s controversial summit with Putin in Helsinki in July. The two agreed in principle that the Iranians should exit Syria but Russia saw that as a tough task, the official said.

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