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Turkish FM criticizes Paris meeting on Syria


Published: 11 December 2016 Sunday, 02:33  PM

Turkish FM criticizes Paris meeting on Syria

Turkey`s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Saturday criticized the focus of a high-level ministerial meeting here aimed at halting the fighting in the Syrian city of Aleppo.

Cavusoglu said the situation in Aleppo was discussed in general, however talks also emphasized on demands by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

"In the meeting, it was discussed that how Assad regime and its supporters` demands can be met,” he said in response to questions by Anadolu Agency and Turkish state news channel TRT. “With that logic, no solution can come out from that meeting.”

In a sign of his frustration with the talks, Cavusoglu suggested the foreign ministers hold an audience with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. "Since they are debating their demands, next time they should invite Assad and its supporters, too,” he said.

Cavusoglu said the situation in Aleppo is getting worse by the day.

"The regime and its supporters are constantly bombing Aleppo. Civilians die and humanitarian aid is almost impossible to reach the region,” he said.

"What would happen after the departure of all of Aleppo`s opposition? Would not they be massacred where they left?,” he asked. "Do not the bombings continue anyway in Idleb or Homs?".

Cavusoglu said talks should center on the plight of civilians in Aleppo.

"Instead of focusing on the political solution and on a total cease-fire, we are only responding to the demands of the regime and its supporters. No one offers concrete solutions for securing the civilian population and the opposition who would eventually leave the city of Aleppo."

The international meeting hosted by French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault was attended by nations supporting Syria`s moderate opposition.

Attendees included U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, and representatives from Italy, Jordan Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Syrian opposition coordinator Riyad Hijab and Aleppo local council president Brita Hagi Hasan also participated.

Following the talks, Ayrault said the opposition in Syria was ready to resume negotiations with the regime "without preconditions".

"We need to tie down the conditions for a genuine political transition, and negotiations must resume on a clear basis within the framework of the UN resolution," he said.

Ayrault also said Moscow`s operations were aimed more at "consolidating a dictator" than “fighting terrorism.”

Kerry, who met Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov earlier this week to discuss the situation, suggested war crimes violations in Syria. "The indiscriminate bombing by the regime violates rules of law, or in many cases, crimes against humanity, and war crimes."

He said the Syrian regime and its foreign backers must let the UN deliver aid to those in desperate need across Syria and he is hopeful for the success of talks in Geneva, but cannot say with certainty.

Talks between American and Russian officials on Syria are scheduled for later Saturday in Geneva.

"This is the hardest kind of diplomacy," he said. ”If Aleppo falls to regime, war does not end ... does not move you closer to political resolution,” he said. “None of the parties in Syria should accept a bloody fight to the end.

"Russia and Assad have a moment where they are in a dominant position to show a little grace," he added.

More than 775 civilians have been killed and 2,500 injured in regime attacks on opposition-held parts of Aleppo since mid-November, according to local civil defense officials.

Fierce bombardments have forced most of the city’s hospitals to halt operations while most academic activities have been suspended.

The recent escalation comes amid attempts by the Russia-backed Assad regime to wrest control of eastern parts of Aleppo that were captured by armed opposition groups four years ago.

"The suffering of the people in Aleppo is immeasurable," the German foreign minister said, adding that it was a "moral and legal duty" to relieve the suffering.

Syria has been locked in a devastating civil war since early 2011, when the Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests – which erupted as part of the "Arab Spring" uprisings – with unexpected ferocity.

Since then, hundreds of thousands of people are believed to have been killed and millions more displaced by the conflict.

(Source: Anadolu Agency, Turkey)