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Russia is 'clear eyed' about its Mideast policy

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin discusses the results of his latest tour around the Middle East and Russia’s vision for key regional issues, including Israeli-Iranian frictions, Idlib and the buffer zone in Syria.
President Vladimir Putin of Russia, Hassan Rouhani of Iran and Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey meet in Tehran, Iran September 7, 2018. Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. - RC179AE28110

The summit in Sochi slated for Feb. 14 will bring together Russian President Vladimir Putin, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in their first meeting since the United States announced a pullout from Syria.

In an interview with major Russian media outlets — Kommersant, Ria Novosti and TASS — Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin said Moscow wants “the American occupation to end.” For Russia, an ideal scenario would include the handover of US-controlled territory to the Syrian government. These include the eastern bank of the Euphrates, Manbij and the US outpost at al-Tanf hugging the borders of Jordan and Iraq. However, it remains unclear whether the Americans are ready to withdraw from all these areas. The US military base in southeastern Syria and the 55-kilometer (34-mile) safe zone around it raise the most questions from Moscow.

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