Top official visits Russia to talk Syria

Top official visits Russia to talk Syria

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Top official visits Russia to talk Syria

Hürriyet photo

Senior Turkish diplomat Feridun Sinirlioğlu will soon travel to Moscow to hold talks with Russian officials on a number of issues, with the Syrian conflict topping the agenda.

Sinirlioğlu, the Foreign Ministry undersecretary, will visit the Kremlin, where he will meet with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, a senior diplomat told the Hürriyet Daily News Jan. 4. The visit will take place later in January.

Turkey will propose “concrete” proposals to Russia, a senior diplomat also told Anatolia news agency, adding that Moscow had realized that a transition process with President Bashar al-Assad was no longer possible. The diplomat, however, added that Russia told Turkey that they would not “persuade” al-Assad to leave his post. At a Dec. 3, 2012, meeting in Istanbul, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan downplayed differences over the Syrian civil war.

“Mr. Putin and I assigned our foreign ministers [to deal with the issue]. During the upcoming process, the foreign ministers will jointly conduct studies,” Erdoğan said following the meeting with Putin. Sources said the upcoming meeting between Sinirlioğlu and Bogdanov would not be their first, as they met last month as well.

Last month, Turkish daily Radikal reported that Turkey had made a new proposal to Russia for an orderly peaceful transition in war-ravaged Syria. The proposal calls for al-Assad to step down in the first three months of 2013 and for the transition process to be undertaken by the opposition National Coalition, which has been recognized as the sole representative of Syrians by Arab and Western states, the daily reported. The source speaking to Anatolia also commented on ties with Israel, saying Turkey and Israel were discussing ways to restore relations and that Israeli officials were no longer saying they were in the “same position” as before. The same source said progress would be made after Israeli elections later this month.