Turkey, Russia, Iran agree on ‘1,600-attendee list’ for Sochi meeting
Sevil Erkuş - ANKARA
Turkey, Russia and Iran have agreed on who will be invited to the National Dialogue Congress on Syria set to take place in Russia’s Black Sea city of Sochi, and the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) is not among them, a Foreign Ministry official has told Hürriyet Daily News.
Russia started sending invitations for the Sochi meeting, in which some 1,600 participants are expected to take part, the official said.
Syrian Kurds will be represented by the Kurdish National Congress, a group that also takes part in the High Negotiation Committee, along with some representatives of Kurdish tribes and the civic society in Syria’s Kurdish populated areas determined by Russia, the official added, noting that Turkey maintains its right to object to any of the participants if any links to the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the People’s Protection Units (YPG) are determined.
On speculations regarding an alleged agreement between Turkey and Russia over Operation Olive Branch, which Turkey launched on Jan. 20 to remove the YPG from the northwestern city of Afrin, the official denied that Russia approved the Afrin offensive in return for Turkey’s approval for Russia to enter the rebel-held Idlib.
“There is no room for speculations as though there was a give and take situation. This is about national security; this is about the territorial and political integrity of Syria, which we are trying to support,” the official said.
Asked about the future of the Afrin operation, the official said: “What we would like to see is first the full elimination of terror threat and presence in Afrin, and then if conditions allow us, we will try to set up stability in a way that people belonging to that territory can return as we did in the Euphrates Shield operation areas.”