FM Çavuşoğlu in US for key Syria meeting

FM Çavuşoğlu in US for key Syria meeting

FM Çavuşoğlu in US for key Syria meeting

AA Photo

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu traveled to New York to take part in a new round of talks focused on ending the more than four-year-old conflict in Syria, where he met his counterparts from Saudi Arabia and Qatar in a trio meeting.

Senior international envoys from the 17-nation International Syrian Support Group (ISSG), including Turkey, gathered in New York on Dec. 18 to seek U.N. backing for an ambitious U.S./Russia plan to bring about a negotiated end to Syria’s brutal civil war.

To address questions regarding the Syrian crisis, the ISSG was scheduled to meet at U.S. invitation on the morning of Dec. 18 at a New York hotel to try to narrow their disagreements.

Diplomats will then travel the short distance to the United Nations to seek, and likely obtain, approval of the U.N. Security Council for the process.

“So the big result for the afternoon session is obviously this resolution, and the secretary remains confident that we can get there,” U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said Dec. 17.

Before the talks in New York, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Moscow to assure Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s key ally that Washington was not seeking a “regime change” in Syria.

The top U.S. diplomat also met Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir on Dec. 17 to reassure al-Assad’s most implacable foe that the United States was not going soft on the Syrian strongman.

Çavuşoğlu met with al-Jubeir and his Qatari counterpart Khalid Bin Mohammed al-Attiyah in New York hours before a new round of peace talks over Syria, state-run Anadolu Agency reported. 

Under a deal struck last month in Vienna after two separate meetings, government and rebel negotiators would have six months to form a transitional government and 18 months to organize national elections.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Dec. 17 there “seems to be no agreement” on two key issues, just hours before the latest round of Syria talks in New York.

The Iranian foreign minister told The Associated Press that his country has seen “no lists we can agree upon” of Syrian opposition groups that should be included in peace negotiations, or of Syrian groups that should be considered terrorist organizations instead.

Çavuşoğlu’s visit comes at a time when the United Nations Security Council was scheduled to meet on Dec. 18 to discuss a complaint by Iraq over Turkish troops deployed to a camp near the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. 

In a Dec. 11 letter to the 15-member Security Council, Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari complained that Turkey had violated his country’s sovereignty, territorial unity and integrity, and wanted the UNSC to order Turkey to withdraw its forces immediately.

Turkey deployed around 150 troops to the Bashiqa camp early this month with the stated aim of training an Iraqi militia to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The Iraqi government said they were not welcome and must withdraw. 

Turkey withdrew some troops this week, moving them to another base inside Iraq’s Kurdistan region, but Baghdad said they should pull out completely.