Davutoğlu accuses al-Assad of exploiting delays to Syria peace talks
ISTANBUL - Reuters
Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu talks during a news conference after his meeting with Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague in Istanbul November 20, 2013. REUTERSTurkey accused Syrian President Bashar al-Assad Nov. 20 of exploiting delays to planned U.S. and Russian-backed peace talks by stepping up attacks on the opposition and said the conference must take place quickly if it was to be of use.
Russia, which strongly backs Assad, and the United States announced in May they would try to bring Syria's government and opposition together at the so-called Geneva 2 peace talks, but a date has so far proved elusive.
"The [al-Assad] regime is orchestrating an absolute human tragedy by ramping up its bombings recently and leaving its people starving through a siege," Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu told a news conference in Istanbul.
"Geneva 2 should convene, produce results ... and the calendar should not be allowed to be exploited," he said.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Nov. 18 he hoped the conference could be convened in mid-December but he could not yet give an exact date.
More than two and half years into Syria's civil war, the balance of power has tilted in favour of Assad and against the increasingly fragmented rebels.
Turkey, a backer of the opposition which faces a growing threat of spillover across its 900 km border with Syria, has supported international peace efforts but has become increasingly frustrated by a lack of concrete progress.
"As Turkey we have supported all diplomatic initiatives. But since May, there's been constant talk about Geneva 2, and expectations mount, but it ends in disappointment because there are no positive results," Davutoğlu said.