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Russian, Turkish defense ministers meet on Syria

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.

Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar, left, and Russia's Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu inspect a military honour guard before their talks in Ankara, Turkey, Monday, Feb. (Defence Ministry via AP, Pool)
Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar, left, and Russia’s Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu inspect a military honour guard before their talks in Ankara, Turkey, Monday, Feb. (Defence Ministry via AP, Pool)
Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar, left, and Russia's Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu inspect a military honour guard before their talks in Ankara, Turkey, Monday, Feb. (Defence Ministry via AP, Pool)
Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar, left, and Russia’s Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu inspect a military honour guard before their talks in Ankara, Turkey, Monday, Feb. (Defence Ministry via AP, Pool)
Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar, right, and Russia's Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu speak in Ankara, Turkey, Monday, Feb. (Turkish Defence Ministry via AP, Pool)
Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar, right, and Russia’s Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu speak in Ankara, Turkey, Monday, Feb. (Turkish Defence Ministry via AP, Pool)
Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar, right, and Russia's Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu listen to national anthems during a ceremony in Ankara, Turkey, Monday, Feb. (Turkish Defence Ministry via AP, Pool)
Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar, right, and Russia’s Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu listen to national anthems during a ceremony in Ankara, Turkey, Monday, Feb. (Turkish Defence Ministry via AP, Pool)