Turkey, Saudi Arabia voice support for Syrian opposition
RIYADH - Agence France-Presse
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu (L) shakes hands with his Saudi counterpart Adel al-Jubeir at the end of a joint press conference on Januray 31, 2016 at the Foreign Affairs ministry press hall in Riyadh. AFP PhotoTurkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and his Saudi counterpart Adel al-Jubeir on Jan. 31 voiced support for Syrian opposition figures who have travelled to Geneva for UN-brokered peace talks.
"We share the same position which consists of supporting our Syrian brothers directly or when they take part in international meetings," Jubeir said in Riyadh at a joint news conference with Çavuşoğlu.
Turkey's top diplomat echoed him, saying: "We back demands for a truce and for sending humanitarian aid" to besieged towns in Syria as requested by the opposition.
Çavuşoğlu also said that the Syrian opposition was free to leave peace talks in Geneva if its terms were not met.
"We asked the opposition that they can put their conditions to start the negotiations and continue the negotiations. They can leave anytime if they are not implemented," Çavuşoğlu was quoted as saying by Reuters.
The opposition Higher Negotiations Committee had threatened to boycott the talks involving Syrian government representatives which opened Friday in Geneva unless a host of conditions was met.
A delegation from the HNC arrived late on Jan. 30 in the Swiss city and on Jan. 31 some members met UN envoy Staffan de Mistura.
"We only came to Geneva after written commitments on the fact that there would be serious progress on the humanitarian issues," HNC spokeswoman Basma Kodmani told reporters.
"We are here for political negotiations but we cannot start those until we have those gestures," she said.
The joint Saudi-Turkish news conference on Jan. 31 came as Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu wrapped up a three-day visit to the oil-rich kingdom and met King Salman.
Jubeir told reporters that Riyadh and Ankara have agreed to set up a "strategic cooperation council" to coordinate their positions, including in "the battle against terrorism, politics, security and military affairs."