Turkey de­nies claims of a ‘Syria bar­gain’ with Rus­sia

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Turkey yes­ter­day de­nied it had forged any se­cret “bar­gain” with Rus­sia over the fu­ture of Syria ahead of a key min­is­te­rial meet­ing in­clud­ing Iran, de­spite im­prov­ing co­op­er­a­tion that led to a deal for evac­u­a­tions from war­wrecked Aleppo. Turkey and Rus­sia saw re­la­tions plunge to their worst lev­els since the Cold War last year when a Turk­ish jet shot down a Rus­sian war plane over Syria.

But a rec­on­cil­i­a­tion deal was signed ear­lier this year and de­spite be­ing on op­pos­ing sides in the Syria con­flict-with Ankara back­ing rebels try­ing to top­ple Moscow ally Pres­i­dent Bashar Al-As­sadthe rhetoric has warmed con­sid­er­ably. This has led to sug­ges­tions that Turkey agreed to Rus­sia help­ing As­sad to re­take all of Aleppo, while Moscow vowed not to in­ter­fere in Turkey’s own mil­i­tary op­er­a­tion in north­ern Syria.

“That’s not how we see it,” a se­nior Turk­ish for­eign min­istry of­fi­cial said. “It is not like we make a kind of a bar­gain. We don’t see any con­nec­tion.” In a mil­i­tary op­er­a­tion that be­gan in Au­gust, Turk­ish forces and rebel al­lies are now press­ing on the Syr­ian town of Al-Bab where they have en­coun­tered stiff re­sis­tance from ji­hadists. “Peo­ple are more im­pa­tient to see more re­sults,” said the of­fi­cial. “It is dif­fi­cult but it will con­tinue.”

The com­ments came as Turk­ish For­eign Min­is­ter Mev­lut Cavu­soglu, his Rus­sian coun­ter­part Sergei Lavrov, and For­eign Min­is­ter Mohammad Javad Zarif of Iran, As­sad’s other key ally, are due to hold un­prece­dented tri­par­tite talks on the Syria con­flict in Moscow on Tues­day. “The Rus­sians sug­gested Turkey, Rus­sia and Iran come to­gether for a so­lu­tion, ini­tially over Aleppo, to be maybe fur­ther en­larged to the other parts of Syria,” said the Turk­ish of­fi­cial, ex­press­ing hope the talks would pro­vide an “im­pe­tus”.

“It is not a mir­a­cle meet­ing,” said the of­fi­cial. “It will give a good op­por­tu­nity to un­der­stand what is hap­pen­ing.” The of­fi­cial in­sisted that Ankara was stick­ing to its po­si­tion that As­sad must go for there to be a so­lu­tion in Syria. “No way we can have any con­tact with the Syr­ian regime,” said the of­fi­cial, deny­ing there had been any se­cret talks with As­sad rep­re­sen­ta­tives. “Some­one who is the cul­prit in the death of 600,000 peo­ple can­not be the part­ner for a so­lu­tion. With the Rus­sians we agree to dis­agree on this mat­ter.” —AFP

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