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    Iran hosts Putin, Erdogan for talks overshadowed by Ukraine war

    TEHRAN (AFP) – Iran’s president hosted his Russian and Turkish counterparts yesterday for talks on the Syrian war in a three-way summit overshadowed by fallout from the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

    The summit is the first hosted by Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi since he took office last year, and the second trip abroad by Russia’s Vladimir Putin since he ordered the invasion of Ukraine in February.

    It comes days after United States (US) President Joe Biden visited the Middle East for the first time since taking office.

    But the trilateral summit is ostensibly centred on Syria, as part of the so-called Astana peace process to end more than 11 years of conflict in the Arab country.

    All three are involved in Syria, with Iran and Russia supporting the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and Turkey backing rebel forces.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, speaks to Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi on the sidelines of an earlier meeting. PHOTO: AP

    The summit will also enable Erdogan to hold his first meeting with Putin since Russia invaded Ukraine in February.

    The Turkish president has for months been offering to meet the Russian leader in a bid to help resolve heightened global tensions since the war began.

    “The timing of this summit is not a coincidence,” Russian analyst Vladimir Sotnikov told AFP.

    “Turkey wants to conduct a ‘special operation’ in Syria just as Russia is implementing a ‘special operation’ in Ukraine,” he said.

    Turkey has launched waves of attacks on Syria since 2016, targetting Kurdish militias as well as Islamic State group extremists and forces loyal to Assad.

    The news that Putin and Erdogan are to meet came on a day which saw EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell warn Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian ports threatens supplies to countless thousands vulnerable to starvation.

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