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CONFIRMED: Astana Group of Russia, Turkey and Iran to meet in Tehran this week

Foreign ministers, Sergei Lavrov (C) of Russia, Mevlut Cavusoglu (R) of Turkey and Mohammad Javad Zarif of Iran, attend a news conference in Moscow, Russia, December 20, 2016. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov - RTX2VUYG

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has met with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu in Manila where President Rodrigo Duterte is hosting the ASEAN summit. The summit’s importance has been deeply enhanced due to the importance of discussions between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on the Korean issue. Rex Tillerson, the US Secretary of State has also been in Manila and has appeared to endorse the joint statement from the Russian and Chinese Foreign Ministers.

It was later announced by Lavrov that on the 8th and 9th of August, representatives of the Astana Group which includes Russia, Iran and Turkey will meet in the Iranian capital Tehran to discuss the progress of the peace process in Syria.

This is significant in several ways. First of all, it shows that Turkey, Russia and Iran are increasingly united, at least from a political perspective on leading the international peace process in Syria. The United States and its single joint Russian-Jordanian de-escalation zone in south western Syria continues to be dwarfed by those enforced by the Astana Group.

Secondly, Turkey and Iran’s burgeoning good relations are symptomatic of Ankara’s further movement from NATO and President Erdogan’s increased penchant to look for dialogue and partnerships with Russia’s allies, including Iran.

In this sense while the US has sought to isolate Iran and Russia through sanctions while ignoring Turkey’s opposition to America’s pro-Kurdish position in the Middle East, it has merely strengthened the bonds between the three members of the Astana Group.

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