Lavrov to visit Turkey on Nov 25
AFP photoRussian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will pay a visit to Turkey on Nov. 25 to discuss issues including Syria, the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and Cyprus as part of a meeting of the High-Level Russian-Turkish Cooperation Council’s (ÜDİK).
Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova said Lavrov would attend a meeting of the Joint Strategic Planning Group, a sub-organ of ÜDİK, in Turkey, Anadolu Agency reported.
The situation in Syria, the Middle East and North Africa, and the peace negotiations in Cyprus would be discussed in the meeting attended by Lavrov, said Zakharova, adding that the main topic would be the fight against terrorism.
The spokeswoman said Russia had submitted a revised draft U.N. resolution on Nov. 18 on fighting ISIL, adding that Russia was hoping for international support for its resolution, especially from France.
The Russian draft text was first presented to the U.N. Security Council in late September but was rejected by the United States, Britain and France over a provision that calls for battling ISIL militants with the consent of the Syrian regime, a Moscow ally.
Zakharova said the new draft included clauses to prevent terrorists from using the holes in national legislations.
Lavrov, on the same day, said Russia was ready to cooperate with the Western coalition fighting ISIL if its members respect Syria’s sovereignty.
“We are ready for practical cooperation with those countries who are part of the coalition and are ready to develop with them such forms of coordination that of course would respect Syria’s sovereignty and the prerogatives of the Syrian leadership,” Lavrov was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies, Agence France-Press reported.
Meanwhile, U.S. President Barack Obama said Nov. 19 that Syria’s civil war would not end unless Bashar al-Assad leaves power, discounting suggestions the Middle Eastern leader could take part in future elections.
“I do not foresee a situation in which we can end the civil war in Syria while al-Assad remains in power,” Obama said on the sidelines of a trade summit in Manila.
Al-Assad’s fate has become a key stumbling block to peace in Syria and a point of contention between the West and al-Assad’s backers in Moscow and Tehran.
Obama’s comments come days after meeting al-Assad’s top backer, Russian President Vladimir Putin, which appeared to see the two sides edge closer to an agreement.
Obama insisted Syrians would not accept al-Assad staying in power, after a brutal civil war that has seen his regime carry out indiscriminate attacks on civilians.
“Even if I said that was okay, I still don’t think it would actually work,” Obama said.
Hours before Obama’s comments, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan again voiced his desire to create a no-fly zone and establish a train-and-equip program for Syrian rebels while floating the idea of building settlements for Syrian refugees in line with their “national architectural style.”
“A no-fly zone, terror-free zone and train-and-equip [program] – steps are needed on these issues. Now our relevant departments are carrying out work. Timing is another issue, but the process is under control. This step will be taken, some areas have especially been earmarked,” Erdoğan said in an interview aired on ATV and A Haber channels late on Nov. 18.
New housing that is in harmony with local architecture should be built in the area where Syrian refugees are located, the president said.
A no-fly zone will protect them, while Syrian opposition forces will have the power to conduct a ground operation in the prospective area, he said.
Meanwhile, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem plans to visit Russia on Nov. 25, Sputnik news agency reported on Nov. 19, citing Syria’s embassy in Moscow.