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Assad’s future up to Syrians to negotiate, says Turkish official

Only Syrians can decide Assad's fate said a Turkish official [Getty]

Date of publication: 23 November, 2017

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Turkey made clear its “reservations” about Assad having any future role in Syria “after all these deaths,” Mahir Unal, the spokesman of the Justice and Development Party, told reporters.
Turkey supports a political solution for Syria but retains its “red lines” on the subject of Bashar al-Assad remaining president, a top Turkish ruling party official said on Thursday.

During a trilateral meeting with Russia and Iran in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi on Wednesday, Turkey made clear its “reservations” about Assad having any future role in Syria “after all these deaths,” Mahir Unal, the spokesman of the Justice and Development Party, told reporters.

Turkey also emphasised at the Sochi meeting that there must be negotiations between Assad and the opposition, Unal said, which Ankara has supported from the start of Syria’s civil war, now in its seventh year.

“It’s not within the logic of negotiations to have a precise position today on the political solution and on whether the transition will be with or without Assad,” Unal said, adding that Turkey, Russia and Iran would act as “facilitators” in negotiations.

He also said that Turkey remains adamantly opposed to Syrian Kurdish fighters participating in negotiations - another red line - while at the same time supporting Syria’s territorial unity.

In Sochi, the leaders of Russia, Turkey and Iran discussed ways to promote a peaceful settlement in Syria [The New Arab]

The US-backed Syrian Kurds have battled the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria and now control a significant stretch of territory. However, Ankara considers them a terror group and an extension of the Kurdish insurgency with Turkey’s own borders.

In Sochi, the leaders of Russia, Turkey and Iran on Wednesday discussed ways to promote a peaceful settlement in Syria, including the return of refugees, humanitarian aid and prisoners’ exchange.

Russian President Vladimir Putin noted that political settlement will require concessions from all sides, including Assad’s government. The Syrian president had made a surprise trip to Sochi late on Monday for talks with Putin, which the Kremlin said were intended to lay the groundwork for Wednesday’s trilateral meeting.

“We have reached a consensus on helping the transition to an inclusive, free, fair and transparent political process that will be carried out under the leadership and ownership of the Syrian people,” Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan said after the meeting.

Russia will be hosting a meeting in Sochi that is expected to bring the opposition and Syrian government together in early December.

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