Leaders of Russia and Turkey meet to discuss Syrian…

The presidents of Russia and Turkey are meeting in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi in a bid to find a diplomatic resolution to the crisis around a rebel-held region in Syria.

The province of Idlib in north-western Syria is the largest bastion of the opposition, and Turkey has been eager to prevent a potential government offensive there.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin for the second time in just 10 days after Russia and Iran expressed support for the idea of an offensive.

Russia calls Idlib a hotbed of terrorism and says the Syrian government has the right to retake control of it.

Turkey has appealed to Russia and Iran, its negotiating partners, for a diplomatic resolution to the explosive situation.

At the same time, it has sent reinforcements to its troops ringing Idlib, a move designed to ward off a ground assault, at least for now.

Mr Putin told Mr Erdogan in opening remarks carried by Russian news agencies that they will be “looking for solutions where there are none right now”, without mentioning Idlib by name.

Mr Erdogan in his reply expressed hope that the joint statement that the two leaders are expected to make later on will be “a new hope for the whole region”.

Idlib and surrounding areas is home to more than three million Syrians, and an estimated 60,000 rebel fighters.

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