Erdogan says no ‘full’ agreement on Syria summit
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday there was no agreement yet for the leaders of Turkey, Russia, France and Germany to hold a summit over the escalating violence in northern Syria.
The Kremlin indicated a two-way meeting between Turkey’s Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin was also not on the cards.
Erdogan on Saturday had announced he would hold a four-party summit with Putin, France’s Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on March 5.
But he told reporters Tuesday in a televised press conference before travelling to Azerbaijan “there is no full agreement” on holding the meeting.
The Turkish leader on Tuesday said he might instead hold face-to-face talks with Putin on March 5, either in Istanbul or in Ankara.
Russia and Turkey have over the last years been working in close coordination to end the conflict in Syria but strains have soared in recent weeks over the escalating violence in the Syrian province of Idlib.
The tensions are seen as the biggest threat to Ankara-Moscow ties since Turkey shot down a Russian warplane over Syria in November 2015.
In Moscow, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied that a bilateral meeting between Erdogan and the Russian leader was planned.
“We are not talking about bilateral contacts. But the possibility of a meeting in a multilateral format is being worked out,” he told reporters.
“For now, no decision has been taken, as not all the potential participants have given their agreement,” he added.
But Peskov did not confirm that such a multilateral summit would involve France and Germany in a four-way meeting, and instead indicated a tripartite summit with Iran could be planned.
“The Iranian variant” is being looked at, he said. Putin, Erdogan and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani have repeatedly met on Syria in the past.
Turkish troops have come under deadly fire from Syrian government forces this month in the northwestern Idlib province — the last rebel enclave.
The clashes have prompted negotiations between Turkish and Russian delegations in Moscow and in Ankara which have so far proved fruitless. Moscow, along with Tehran, is the chief backer of the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
Erdogan said a Russian delegation would come to Turkey on Wednesday for another round of talks.
The United Nations warned on Monday against an imminent “bloodbath” as the fighting in Idlib was coming “dangerously close” to encampments holding around a million displaced people.
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