Russian, Turkish defense ministers meet on Syria

Russian, Turkish defense ministers meet on Syria
Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar, left, and Russia's Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu greet each other before their talks in Ankara, Turkey, Monday, Feb. 11, 2019. Shoigu said at the start of Monday's meeting with his Turkish counterpart Akar that the two countries' experts have done "a lot of work to coordinate on issues related to the stabilization in Idlib and issues related to the east bank of the Euphrates River." (Defence Ministry via AP, Pool)

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — The Russian and Turkish defense ministers are meeting in Ankara to coordinate their next moves on Syria.

Sergei Shoigu said at the start of Monday’s meeting with his Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar that they need to solve a few remaining issues ahead of Thursday’s meeting of the presidents of Russia, Turkey and Iran in Sochi. Akar hailed the talks as an “important contribution to the peace and stability of the region.”

Russia and Turkey share a strong opposition to the U.S. military presence in Syria and are coordinating ahead of the planned withdrawal of American troops.

Iran and Russia are close allies of Syrian President Bashar Assad, while Turkey supports the opposition. The three have arranged local truces in different parts of the war-torn country in recent years.