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19:59, 20 June 2018 Wednesday
19:30, 17 February 2017 Friday

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Germany, France back Turkey's efforts for Syria peace
Germany, France back Turkey's efforts for Syria peace

Foreign ministers praise Astana talks, call on Russia and Iran to play constructive role in negotiations

World Bulletin / News Desk

 Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Friday the "right strategies" and "moderate opposition along with Turkey's support" could clear ISIL from Syria’s Raqqah and Al-Bab.

Speaking to journalists after attending a Friends of Syria meeting in Germany, Cavusoglu also said the Geneva talks process "should be started as soon as possible".

"We highlighted issues such as how to fight against ISIL [and] how to make Syria a stable country again," he said. "We also talked with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on what strategies to follow."

"With the right strategies and with the right groups, moderate opposition and with Turkey's support, we can quickly erase ISIL from Al-Bab and Raqqah and other regions," the foreign minister added.

Syria peace talks are scheduled to start in Switzerland next week.

German and French foreign ministers backed Turkey’s efforts to build a ceasefire in Syria, and urged Russia to play a constructive role in talks.

Speaking at a news conference in Bonn following the Friends of Syria meeting, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel voiced his support for the talks which took place in Kazakhstan's capital, Astana.

"The ceasefire continues to be fragile and the humanitarian situation continues to be catastrophic.

“Nevertheless, we were happy to see that Turkey, together with Russia, focused on humanitarian issues and the ceasefire in Astana,” he said.  

He underlined that although the Astana process played an important role in the ceasefire, efforts to find a political solution to the conflict should continue in Geneva under the auspices of the UN.

Gabriel expressed his hope for progress in the Geneva talks which will bring together representatives of the Syrian regime and the opposition next week for the first time since negotiations were suspended in April.

Astana process

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault welcomed the concrete results achieved in the Astana process and called on Russia and Iran to use their influence over the regime in Damascus. 

"The Astana process is actually focusing on an essential issue for us, that is to say the ceasefire, the cessation of hostilities, and the capacity for us to monitor the ceasefire.

“A number of decisions were taken yesterday; they are going in the right direction. But we are still far from what we aspire to because humanitarian assistance is arriving very slowly and fighting is still taking place,” he said.

Turkey, Russia and Iran agreed on Thursday to set up a joint commission to supervise the Syria truce. 

"If Iran and Russia are also convinced that there is no other future for Syria other than a political transition, then we need to make sure that both parties negotiate a political transition in a sincere way,” Ayrault said.

France’s top diplomat called for a broader representation of opposition groups in the Geneva talks in order to achieve results on the ground.

“Armed groups fighting against the regime, they should be in the delegation,” he said.

“We are asking Russia and Iran to make sure that the Syrian regime stops considering the whole opposition as terrorists. Otherwise, in Geneva, there will be no discussion,” he added. 

Ayrault underlined that the Friends of Syria group would continue to support efforts for a political solution to the conflict and meet as often as necessary to show its unity.

Friday’s meeting in Bonn brought together foreign ministers of the Friends of Syria group which includes the U.S., Germany, France, Turkey, the U.K., Italy, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and the EU.


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