Tags: Syria | conflict | Turkey | US

Top US Envoy Reassures Turkey on Assad

Wednesday, 18 March 2015 06:44 AM

A top US envoy has assured Turkey that Washington is seeking a settlement to the conflict in Syria that excludes President Bashar al-Assad, the US embassy said on Wednesday.

John Allen, who is coordinating the international coalition against the Islamic State group, held talks with Turkish foreign ministry undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu on Tuesday in Ankara on "our shared efforts to degrade and defeat ISIL," the embassy said, using an alternative name for IS.

Turkey was furious after US Secretary of State John Kerry suggested in a weekend interview that negotiations would have to be opened with Assad to end the four-year war in Syria.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said there was nothing to negotiate with Assad, while Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu compared talks with the Syrian leader to shaking hands with Nazi tyrant Adolf Hitler.

US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki on Monday moved to clarify Kerry's comments, saying Assad would never be part of peace negotiations.

General Allen, accompanied by deputy special presidential envoy Brett McGurk, reaffirmed that "the United States' position on Assad has not changed" and Washington wanted a transition in Syria that did not include Assad.

"The United States believes that he has lost all legitimacy to govern, that conditions in Syria under his rule have led to the rise of ISIL and other terrorist groups," the statement said.

"We continue to seek a negotiated political outcome to the Syrian conflict that does not in the end include Assad," it added.

Turkey has played a limited role in the US-led coalition against IS militants who have made gains in large swathes of Iraq and Syria right up to the Turkish border, straining ties with its NATO ally Washington.

Ankara says any solution to end the war in Syria should exclude Assad, while Washington appears to prioritise countering the extremist threat before dealing with the regime in Damascus.

Turkish officials say they could open the Incirlik air base in southern Turkey for use by coalition planes conducting bombing raids against IS only as part of a comprehensive strategy with an ultimate goal of bringing down the Assad regime.

Turkey and the United States signed in February an agreement to train and equip thousands of moderate Syrian opposition forces.


© AFP 2018

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Wednesday, 18 March 2015 06:44 AM
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