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Putin Says 'Real Chance' For Syria Peace As Talks With Iran, Turkey Leaders Start

RUSSIA -- (R-L) Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Hassan Rohani meet in Sochi, November 22, 2017

Russian President Vladimir Putin says there is a "real chance" to end the civil war in Syria but that a political solution to the conflict will require compromises from all parties involved, including the Syrian government Moscow is backing.

Putin made the comments on November 22 at the start of talks with his counterparts from Iran and Turkey -- Hassan Rohani and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, respectively -- in the southern Russian city of Sochi.

"There is a real chance to put an end to this years-long civil war," Putin said.

"It is obvious that the reform process will not be simple. It will require compromise and concessions from all parties, including obviously the Syrian government," he added.

Iranian President Rouhani said on Wednesday that foreign interference in the conflict in Syria must end and foreign military presence in the country may only be acceptable if it is by the invitation of Syria's government.

Rouhani, who stopped short of naming any specific nations, also told his Russian counterparts Vladimir Putin and Turkey's Tayyip Erdogan that now there was the need to uproot the last terrorist cells in Syria and the ground was prepared for political settlement.

Russia and Iran are backing President Bashar al-Assad's government in Syria's more than six-year war, while Turkey and the United States support differing rebel groups seeking Assad's ouster. The extremist Islamic State (IS) group has also entered the fighting and is opposed by all other sides.

Syrian opposition groups are slated to meet in Saudi Arabia on November 23 in a bid to form a single representative body for a new round of UN-sponsored talks in Geneva next week.

Western powers have called for Assad to leave power since the war erupted in 2011, and his fate has been a sticking point in earlier peace talks.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP, and TASS