The 3rd meeting of the Turkish-Russian joint strategic planning group was held on Wednesday in Istanbul. The group was created to discuss political, economic and social issues taking place in the region and the world. This time, the main item on the agenda was the crisis in Syria. The meeting was followed by a press conference chaired by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmad Ahmet Davutoglu and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov .
Syria has been in a state of unrest since May 2011 when foreign-backed militants supported by the West and some of their regional allies notably Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey launched a war on Syrian Government forces. The Syrian President has time and again accused Ankara of being the biggest facilitator to the insurgency by allowing Al-Qaeda linked militants to enter Syria. The insurgency according to the United Nations has left over 70,000 people dead and over 100,000 displaced.
Although the two sides don’t agree on the fate of Syria, both claim their main priority is peace and stability in the region. They also called for a region free form all weapons of mass destruction focusing mostly on abolishing Israel's WMD's. The next meeting of the Turkish-Russian strategic planning group will be held in Russia’s St. Petersburg.
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s visit comes just ahead of the 3rd visit of the US Secretary of State John Kerry who is expected in Turkey this weekend. Kerry’s trip will include a meeting with the so-called Friends of Syria Council. Lavrov has said that Russia is not a part of the council, but he called on all parties attending the meeting to make decisions that could include dialogue with the Syrian government and to stick to the guidelines of the Geneva Convention.