Turkish FM talks Aleppo with French counterpart ahead of Paris meet
Emine Kart - ANKARA
REUTERS photoForeign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has exchanged views with his French counterpart on developments surrounding the Syrian conflict, with a particular focus on concerns stemming from renewed rebel shelling of government-held areas in the deeply contested northern city of Aleppo.
Çavuşoğlu had a phone conversation with French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault on May 4 upon a request from the Turkish side, Turkish diplomatic sources told Hürriyet Daily News.
“Developments taking place in Syria in recent days and especially the attacks on civilians in Aleppo were on the agenda of the conversation,” the diplomatic sources, speaking under customary condition of anonymity, said.
“Additionally, [the] meeting schedule on Syria for the forthcoming period also came on the agenda during the conversation,” the same sources added.
During the same hours on May 4 in Paris, French government spokesperson Stephane Le Foll announced that France would host on May 9 the Turkish foreign minister along with foreign ministers from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates to discuss the breakdown in the Syrian peace process.
Turkish diplomatic sources said it was yet early to talk about Çavuşoğlu’s schedule, although the issue was most probably discussed during his contact with Ayrault.
Spokesperson Le Foll’s announcement came after a cabinet meeting in which Ayrault said he was concerned over the breakdown in negotiations following the surge of violence in Aleppo that has threatened a wider two-month cease-fire in the war-torn country, Agence France-Presse reported.
Talks were set to take place later on May 4 in Berlin between Ayrault, his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier, U.N. peace envoy Staffan de Mistura and Riad Hijab, coordinator for the opposition umbrella group the High Negotiations Committee (HNC).
The U.N. Security Council was to convene later on May 4 in New York for an urgent meeting to discuss the Aleppo crisis, as demanded by Paris and London.
Aleppo, Syria’s former commercial center and its largest city, has been at the center of the conflict for the past two weeks, shattering a limited cease-fire that began in late February.
Diplomatic efforts are underway to stop the escalating violence that has killed nearly 300 people there since April 22.
A “regime of calm” in Syria’s Aleppo was planned for May 3 but its introduction was disrupted by attacks by Nusra Front militants, Russian news agencies, meanwhile, quoted Russian Defense Ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov as saying on May 4.
The “regime of calm” in Aleppo and its suburbs was originally planned to last for 24 hours and to be later extended for another two days, Konashenkov said.