US assures Ankara on Assad’s position
US President Obama’s special envoy, Gen John Allen (P), and his deputy, Ambassador Brett McGurk, were in Ankara to hold talks with Turkish authorities. AFP Photo.Turkish and U.S. diplomats have discussed ways to enhance cooperation in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the U.S. Embassy to Ankara has stated, reiterating that Washington does not foresee a role for Bashar al-Assad in Syria’s future.
U.S. President Barack Obama’s special envoy, Gen. John Allen, and his deputy, Ambassador Brett McGurk, were in Ankara to hold talks with Turkish Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioğlu, according to a statement issued by the embassy.
Describing the talks as constructive, the statement quoted Allen as welcoming Turkey’s support in training vetted Syrian opposition, noting recent Turkish actions to restrict the flow of foreign fighters, and thanking Turkey for its generosity in hosting Syrian and Iraqi refugees.
“General Allen reiterated that the United States’ position on al-Assad has not changed. The United States believes that he has lost all legitimacy to govern, that conditions in Syria under his rule have led to the rise of ISIL and other terrorist groups, and that we continue to seek a negotiated political outcome to the Syrian conflict that does not in the end include al-Assad,” it added.
Allen, McGurk and Sinirlioğlu discussed a number of ways in which the United States and Turkey could enhance cooperation on counter-ISIL efforts and committed to further dialogue on those issues, the statement said.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s statement last weekend, in which he said they must negotiate with al-Assad for a solution to the Syrian crisis has sparked criticism from Ankara, with Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu likening shaking hands with al-Assad to shaking hands with Adolf Hitler and Slobodan Milosevic. Washington later corrected Kerry’s statement.
Meanwhile, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said the crisis in Syria could only be ended at the negotiating table, even if it requires the participation of al-Assad.
“The way to end the violence will only be achieved through negotiations for a political solution. Even though this will require negotiations with the Assad regime,” Steinmeier told Süddeutsche Zeitung.