ANKARA, March 16 (Reuters) – A meeting of the deputy foreign ministers of Russia, Turkey, Iran and Syria, scheduled for this week, has been postponed to an unspecified date, a source from the Turkish foreign ministry said on Thursday.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said last week that the deputy foreign ministers of the four countries would meet this week in Moscow, ahead of planned talks between foreign ministers at a later date, aimed at resolving the crisis in Syria.
The deputy foreign ministers’ meeting had been scheduled for March 15-16, state-run Anadolu Agency reported on Monday.
But the meeting was postponed for “technical reasons”, a Turkish foreign ministry source said, without elaborating.
In a sign of potential rapprochement between Ankara and Damascus, Syrian and Turkish defence ministers held landmark talks in Moscow in December, alongside their Russian counterpart, marking the highest-level encounter since the start of the Syrian war more than a decade ago.
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In January, Cavusoglu said he could meet his Syrian counterpart in February to discuss normalisation between the two neighbours.
NATO member Turkey has been a major backer of the political and armed opposition to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during the 12-year conflict in Syria, and has sent its own troops into swathes of the country’s north.
Moscow is Assad’s main ally and Russia encouraged a reconciliation with Ankara.
After meeting his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amirabdollahian last week, Cavusoglu said Iran wanted to join the talks between Turkey, Syria and Russia, and Turkey agreed.
In a rare visit abroad, Assad met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Wednesday.
Reporting by Huseyin Hayatsever;
Editing by Daren Butler and Sharon Singleton
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