Leaders of Turkey, Russia, Germany and France on Saturday expressed their determination to end bloodshed in war-torn Syria at the earliest.
Following a Syria summit in Istanbul, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan along with Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron held a joint news conference calling on the international community to work hand in hand for a sustainable solution in Syria.
"We have discussed a political solution in line with Syrian people's legitimate demands which moves to reach stability in the country," Erdogan told reporters.
"Our aim is to reach a complete cease-fire to halt bloodshed," he said, adding that the four nations agreed to increase cooperation among themselves and at the international level on the issue.
The leaders also called for the completion of the constitution committee's process for establishing a Syrian constitution by the end of this year that would pave the way for an inclusive and fair election in the country which has borne the brunt of a devastating civil war since 2011.
- Fate of Assad
On the future of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, the Turkish leader reiterated Ankara's stance underlining that his fate should be decided by Syrian people rather than some "individuals".
Stating the summit was "productive" and "sincere", Erdogan said they had agreed that humanitarian aid should continue in order to alleviate suffering of the Syrian people.
Syrian civilians and neighboring countries -- particularly Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan -- had to shoulder the burden of distress arising from crisis in Syria for a long time, according to Erdogan.
Turkey is the top refugee host in the world welcoming around 3.5 million Syrians since the beginning of the Syrian civil war.
Erdogan said the main reason why the Syrian conflict became a global menace is "because the international community did not respond adequately".
- International community should 'end indifference'
However, he said that many countries realized severity of the situation when the crises affected them, referring to the massive refugee influx to European states.
He also urged the international community to "end indifference" regarding the conflict, calling for international support to increase efforts to find political solution as well as to improve situation on ground in Syria.
Referring to the Astana peace process -- brokered by Turkey Russia and Iran -- which ensures cease-fire and a de-escalation zone in Idlib, Erdogan added that participation of France and Germany in the Astana process would develop the synergy for Syria solution.
He said that Iran, as one of the guarantor countries of the Astana process, would be briefed over the decisions taken in the Istanbul summit.
"Astana peace process for Syrian conflict sets an example to international community," he added.
Ankara is determined to continue efforts to find solution to Syrian issue on Astana platform as well as some other wider platforms in the international arena "like today's summit in Istanbul," he went on to assert.
"We agreed to increase cooperation among the four countries and at the international level" regarding the Syria peace negotiation, Erdogan noted.
- Counter-terror operation in east of Euphrates
On Turkey’s effort to eliminate terrorists along its borders in northern Syria, Erdogan repeated Ankara’s determination for a possible counter-terror operation in east of the Euphrates River.
“We will continue to eliminate threats to national security in the east of Euphrates as well as in its west in Syria,” he said, referring to Turkey's cross-border operations in Syria since 2016 -- Operation Euphrates Shield and Operation Olive Branch -- meant to rid border areas of terrorist groups such as the PKK/PYD/YPG and Daesh.
- Kashoggi case
On the sideline of the Syria summit, Erdogan also held bilateral meetings with his three counterparts where he discussed the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi along with other issues.
He provided “necessary information” to Putin, Macron and Merkel regarding the investigation of the murder of Washington Post columnist who went missing on Oct. 2 after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.
After weeks of denial, Saudi authorities admitted last week that the journalist was killed inside the consulate.
On the day of Khashoggi’s disappearance, 15 other Saudis, including several officials, arrived in Istanbul on two planes and visited the consulate while he was still inside, according to Turkish police sources.
Saudi Authorities said they arrested 18 suspects in the case amid calls from Ankara that they should be extradited to Turkey for trial.
Erdogan said that Turkey was carrying out investigations urging Saudi Arabia to reveal the perpetrators of the attack.
The German chancellor vowed to take "necessary measures" regarding the case, while France's Macron called for sanctions as a reaction.