Turkey welcomes all countries that can make a constructive contribution to Geneva II peace talks aimed at ending the three year-long conflict in Syria, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Levent Gümrükçü said yesterday, while underlining the role of Iran.
As part of preparatory works for the upcoming peace conference in Switzerland, the regional countries of the core group of the Friends of Syria mechanism – Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE, Qatar and Turkey – will gather tomorrow in Paris. The core group of the Friends of Syria will then hold a meeting on Jan. 12, Gümrükçü said at a press briefing in Ankara.
He said Turkey hoped that the Syrian opposition would participate in the conference in “a determined and principled way and voice its views on the future of Syria.”
In response to a question about why Iran had not been invited to talks, Gümrükçü said Turkey would prefer the participation of all countries that could make a contribution to the meeting and its possible outcome.
“Whether Iran participates in these meetings or not, we believe it will play a crucial role throughout this process,” he said, while also reiterating Turkey’s position that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could not be a part of any future government. “The core group of the Friends of Syria strongly opposes this, and it is also a precondition set by the Syrian National Coalition,” he said.
Ambassadors’ conference set to gather Jan 13-19
When asked about the truck that was stopped last week at the Turkish-Syrian border on suspicion that it was carrying arms to the Syrian opposition, Gümrükçü chose not to elaborate, saying that both the interior and foreign ministers made it clear that the truck was delivering humanitarian aid to Turkmens in need of help in Syria.
On the issue of Israeli compensation for the Turkish victims on the Gaza flotilla killed by Israeli security forces in 2010, the spokesperson was also tightlipped. “It is an ongoing process. I hope both sides will reach an agreement soon,” he said.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry will hold its annual conference of ambassadors between Jan. 13-19 in Ankara, Adana and Mersin, Gümrükçü added. The conference’s theme will be “strong democracy, dynamic economy, and efficient diplomacy,” and speeches will be delivered by the Slovenian president, the Omani foreign minister, and the new secretary general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), he also noted.
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