Defense chief says talks with Russian delegation ‘positive’

Defense chief says talks with Russian delegation ‘positive’

Defense chief says talks with Russian delegation ‘positive’

A Turkish military convoy drives near the Syrian town of Kefraya on the highway linking the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib to the Bab al-Hawa border crossing with Turkey, on March 10, 2020. (AFP Photo)

Talks between Turkey and Russia on the implementation of a ceasefire agreement in Syria’s northwestern Idlib region are “positive and constructive,” Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar has said.

“Our activities continue within the context of the [ceasefire] agreement. The situation has been calm,” Akar told reporters in parliament.

Akar said that talks between Russia and Turkey have been ongoing and the meeting with the Russian delegation is “positive and constructive.”

“The Russian military delegation arrived [in Ankara] yesterday evening and the meetings started. Meetings will continue on [March 11] morning. The talks are continuing in positive and constructive manners,” he said.

Turkish, Russian defense ministers discuss Idlib, Syria
Turkish, Russian defense ministers discuss Idlib, Syria

The minister also underlined that Ankara’s “wish” is for the ceasefire to be permanent and for the Syrian asylum seekers to return to their homelands once the war-torn country reaches peace.

“We are working on these. We stand behind our commitments. Likewise, we expect Russia to show the necessary sensitivity regarding this,” he said.

Akar also said that Ankara and Moscow were working to prepare for joint patrols on the key M4 highway. The patrols are expected to begin on March 15.

The Russian delegation arrived in capital Ankara on March 10 for talks on the details of agreement.

Turkey and Russia agreed on a ceasefire on March 5 to stem weeks of escalating clashes in Idlib.

The ceasefire protocol stipulates the establishment of a secure corridor 6 kilometers north and 6 km south from the M4 highway in Idlib. The parameters of the security corridor were to be completed in seven days, which expire on March 12.

According to the agreement, Turkish and Russian forces will begin patrols along the M4 highway on March 15. The patrolling will take place from the Trumba settlement, some 2 kilometers to the west of Saraqib, to the Ain-Al-Havr settlement.

Ankara working to broker permanent cease-fire

Turkey is working to extend the temporary cease-fire in Idlib to a permanent one, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on March 11.

"Currently, efforts are being made to make this temporary cease-fire permanent," Çavuşoğlu told reporters in the capital Ankara.

He said that Turkey is discussing with the visiting Russian military delegation ways to ensure safe movement of traffic on the strategic M4 highway in Idlib, where the two countries are set to start joint patrols.

To a question on how the cease-fire is holding up, Çavuşoğlu said there was harassing fire two days ago but Turkey responded to it.