Syria’s future on table in New York

Syria’s future on table in New York

Uğur Ergan – ANKARA
Syria’s future on table in New York

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) speaks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry during a news conference following their meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia December 15, 2015. REUTERS Photo

Syria’s future will be on the table in New York on Dec. 18, as world powers meet to find a peaceful solution to the civil war in the country that has been raging for over four years. 

Following two separate meetings in Vienna, after which world diplomats had agreed on Nov. 14 on a path to national elections in Syria in 18 months, a third round of talks will be held in New York, with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry saying it will “hopefully” yield a ceasefire agreement.

This meeting comes three days after Kerry met Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Moscow, where the two states agreed to work on efforts to halt Syria’s brutal civil war.

Before the meeting in New York, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Dec. 16 that the goal of diplomatic efforts to end the conflict in Syria was to reach a long-term solution that does not involve Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, according to Reuters. 

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond warned on Dec. 16 that the aim to reach an agreement on a national Syrian ceasefire at talks on Dec. 18 would be “highly challenging.”

During the meeting in New York, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and Lavrov will come together for the second time since the crisis that erupted after Turkey downed a Russian Su-24 warplane due to airspace violations along its border with Syria on Nov. 24. 

Both Çavuşoğlu and Lavrov will attend the meeting, hosted by Kerry, and will sit at the same table during the talks. 

Even though no official statement has been made, sources have told daily Hürriyet that there is a chance that the two foreign ministers will hold a face-to-face meeting on the sidelines of the New York meeting. 

The duo held their first face-to-face meeting since the jet crisis on Dec. 3 in Serbia’s capital Belgrade at an OSCE meeting. The meeting yielded no result, with Lavrov saying he had heard “nothing new” from his Turkish counterpart and Çavuşoğlu saying it would be unrealistic to expect all problems to be solved after a single meeting.

A second high-level meeting between Ankara and Moscow was held in the Turkmenistan capital Ashgabat, when Çavuşoğlu and Russian Federation Council Chairwoman Valentina Matviyenko came together for unplanned talks on the sidelines of an international conference last weekend.