Turkey, Russia Defense Chiefs Discuss Grain Deal and Syria- Quadrapartite Meeting

Turkish National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and his Russian counterpart Sergey Shoigu on Wednesday spoke over the phone and discussed the Black Sea grain deal and Syria.

Akar emphasized that Türkiye is pleased with the cooperation in the extension of the grain initiative, which has contributed greatly to the solution of the global food crisis, according to a Turkish National Defense Ministry statement.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the deal’s extension on Saturday, one day before it was slated to lapse.

Last July, Türkiye, the UN, Russia, and Ukraine signed a deal in Istanbul to resume grain exports from three Ukrainian Black Sea ports which were paused after the Russia-Ukraine war began in February 2022.

Akar told Shoigu that Türkiye will continue to do its part in ensuring regional peace and humanitarian aid.

With respect to Syria, Akar said Türkiye’s only aim is to fight terrorism in order to ensure the security of the country’s borders and citizens and to prevent further human tragedy.

He said that the talks, which started under the leadership of Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, will make “serious” contributions to peace and stability in the region and Syria, according to the statement.

Akar also thanked Russia for the solidarity shown after the Feb. 6 earthquakes that hit southern Türkiye and claimed the lives of more than 50,000 people.

The Quadrapartite Meeting that didn’t happen last week may have been due to Russian concerns- though there was some spin it was due to the Syrians. Except the Syrians actually went to Moscow.

Cavusoglu told reporters on Monday: “The Russians said: ‘We couldn’t prepare for it, let’s postpone it. But the Syrian regime was present, and they may have made a joint decision.”

“Then they (the Russians) said, ‘We’re going to do it in the future,’ and we said okay.”

The quadripartite meeting was a Russian offer, and they are waiting for history from Russia,” he said.

Moscow was scheduled to witness a meeting on March 15th and 16th at the level of deputy foreign ministers of Turkey, Russia, the Syrian regime and Turkey.

While Turkish media confirmed this timing, Russia and Iran did not confirm it. Bashar al-Assad hinted in an interview with Russia Today that the reason for the postponement was the regime’s delegation not accepting to attend the meeting because there was no clear agenda.

Assad said that “the Turkish delegation proposed for the quadripartite meeting, that there be no agenda for the meeting, and that there should be no conditions or any expectations.” He added: “We insist that either there be a clear agenda or that we confirm the withdrawal item.”

Assad considered that attending the meeting would not be before the participating parties agreed to set a clear agenda based on withdrawing Turkish forces from Syria.

Perhaps Russia felt the Syrians and Turkish parties had to come to some mutual understanding/acceptance about the meeting agenda before Russia committed time and effort to the settlement.

And yes, I’m still thinking this meeting will happen. Frankly, Syria and Turkey will both benefit from this rapprochement.

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