Russia urges no 'concessions to terrorists'
ANKARA - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday there should be no "concessions to terrorists" at talks with his Turkish counterpart on Syria, a day after Moscow's ambassador was murdered in Ankara.
"This tragedy forces all of us to fight more decisively against terrorism," Lavrov told Turkey's Mevlut Cavusoglu as they sat down together in Moscow.
"For this reason, I very much hope that our talks and the upcoming three-way meeting with our Iranian colleague will allow us to reach agreements, which will through concrete actions advance the settlement in Syria," Lavrov said, also insisting that they should not allow "any concessions to terrorists".
Foreign and defence ministers from Russia, Turkey and Iran are holding talks on the conflict in Syria, which has entered a crucial stage with the government takeover of rebel-held eastern Aleppo.
"If the organisers of this terror attack were aiming to derail the fight against terrorists in general and today's meeting in particular, they have not succeeded and they won't succeed," Lavrov said at the start of separate talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
Lavrov said he hoped the countries would come up with "the most effective and concrete steps" to normalise the situation in Syria and ensure the delivery of humanitarian aid to desperate civilians.
The United States has been left out of the talks in a clear sign that Moscow is attempting to forge its own settlement for Syria after failing to make headway with Washington.
The Moscow meetings come after Russian envoy Andrei Karlov was gunned down on Monday at an exhibition opening in Ankara by a Turkish policeman crying "Allahu Akbar" (God is greatest) and "Don't forget Aleppo", in what Moscow called a "terrorist act".
Russia and Iran are on the opposite side of the Syrian conflict from Turkey, with Moscow and Tehran backing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Ankara supporting those seeking to topple him.
But Turkey and Russia have started working closely together to evacuate rebel fighters and civilians from war-battered Aleppo under a complex deal.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday warned that the killing of Karlov was a "provocation" aimed at damaging ties with Turkey and undermining the latest efforts to reach a settlement on Syria.