Ankara invites Paris to Syria meeting
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkey’s Ambassador to Syria Ömer Önhon (2nd R) waits at the deck to enter Turkey on March 27. DHA PhotoTurkey has invited French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe to participate in the “Friends of Syria” group’s meeting that will take place in Istanbul on April 1, sources have said, following speculation that Turkey might snub France.
Juppe has confirmed his attendance, a French official told Hürriyet Daily News. Clinton will visit Saudi Arabia between March 30 and 31 and then come to Turkey between March 31 and April 1 for the meeting. After China rejected the invitation, Russia also declared yesterday that it would not be participating in the gathering, saying that the meeting undermined U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan’s peace mission to Syria. Turkey responded cautiously to the Annan peace plan. “We hope it succeeds,” a Turkish diplomat told the Daily News, refraining to elaborate further. Meanwhile, Turkey’s Ambassador to Syria Ömer Önhon has returned home after the closure of the Turkish Embassy in Damascus. Önhon and his staff arrived yesterday in the southern port of Mersin on a ferry from Beirut. Önhon said initiatives were under way regarding the Turkish journalists reported to be missing in Syria. It has also been announced that Turkish Airlines will stop all flights to the Syrian capital Damascus on April 1.
On the other hand, the government’s policy on Syria came under renewed fire from the opposition, as the leader of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Devlet Bahçeli warned that the increasing turmoil could ultimately result in autonomy for Syria’s Kurds. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama in Seoul show that “occupation preparations and the idea of slicing up Syria have matured,” Bahçeli said at his party’s parliamentary group meeting yesterday. “What must be meticulously thought through is the cost of an autonomous Kurdish administration that could emerge in eastern Syria along our border, following the one in Iraq,” he added.