Russia, Iran, Turkey agree to guarantee Syria peace talks
MOSCOW - Russia, Iran and Turkey agreed on Tuesday to guarantee Syria peace talks and backed expanding a ceasefire in the war-torn country, the Russian foreign minister said after talks with counterparts.
"Iran, Russia and Turkey are ready to assist in preparing the agreement in the making between the Syrian government and the opposition and to become its guarantor," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in Moscow, citing a joint statement.
"The ministers agree with the importance of widening the ceasefire, of free access for humanitarian aid and movement of civilians on Syrian territory," he added.
The foreign and defence ministers from key powerbrokers Russia, Iran and Turkey met in Moscow on Tuesday, the day after Russia's envoy to Ankara was shot dead in the Turkish capital by a gunman shouting about Syria and Aleppo.
Russia and Iran are on the opposite side of the Syrian conflict from Turkey, with Moscow and Tehran backing President Bashar al-Assad and Ankara supporting those seeking to topple him.
But Turkey and Russia have recently started working closely together to evacuate rebel fighters and civilians from war-battered Aleppo under a complex deal.
The Red Cross on Tuesday said that at least 25,000 people have left the eastern districts of Aleppo since evacuations began last week, and Lavrov said the process should be completed in two days at most.
"Right now the evacuation is wrapping up," he said. "We hope that this is a question of one or a maximum of two days."