pcloudy.png
Wednesday February 19th, 2020 11:05AM

Syrians must lead peace efforts, leaders say at Turkey talks

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

ISTANBUL (AP) — The leaders of Turkey, Russia, France and Germany said at a summit on Saturday that Syrians must lead efforts to make peace in their war-torn country, a challenge that was highlighted by the absence of any Syrian groups from the Istanbul talks.

Meeting in an Ottoman-era mansion, the leaders set aside divisions over Syrian President Bashar Assad to agree on broad goals, including the eventual, voluntary return of millions of refugees who fled a conflict that has lasted more than seven years and killed over 400,000 people.

"There will be no real, sustainable, credible return of the refugees if the political process is not initiated," French President Emmanuel Macron said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed "preconditions" for the return of refugees, which must be closely coordinated with the U.N. refugee agency.

"From our point of view, it is necessary that there be assurances that there will not be persecution or arrests, that certain fundamental humanitarian conditions are fulfilled — that a certain humanitarian infrastructure is there," she said.

The leaders spoke at a joint news conference with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

A final statement released by the leaders called for "an inclusive, Syrian-led and Syrian-owned political process," and the convening of a committee by the end of the year to work on constitutional reform as a prelude to U.N.-backed free and fair elections.

The leaders noted the cease-fire in Syria's northwestern province of Idlib, which they hope can provide some momentum for peace efforts. The truce last month prevented a Syrian government offensive on the last rebel stronghold, which many feared would have set off another refugee crisis.

Idlib has been relatively calm since then, although both sides have accused each other of violating the deal. Syrian government forces shelled rebel-held villages in Idlib on Friday, killing seven people in violation of the agreement reached by Russia and Turkey, opposition activists said.

Putin, however, warned against any "armed provocations" by "radical elements" in Idlib that oppose the Syrian government, saying Russia will step in to support the Assad government if necessary. Russian military support, along with backing from Iran, has helped Assad to recover much of the territory lost to rebels in the last few years.

Western countries condemn Assad for what they call indiscriminate attacks on civilians and Turkey has been helping insurgents trying to remove him from power.

"For us, Assad is someone who has made attempts against nearly 1 million citizens' lives. He is not in a respected position for us," Erdogan said.

Since 2015, the European Union has been struggling to cope with an influx of refugees, many from Iraq and Syria, and European countries hope war-torn areas can stabilize so that people can return. Germany has pledged millions of euros to help restore basic services in areas not held by the Assad government.

The summit comes amid Turkish threats of a new military operation across the border into northern Syria, in zones held by Syrian Kurdish fighters. Turkey considers the Syrian Kurdish militia, which is backed by the U.S., to be terrorists and a part of the Kurdish insurgency within Turkey.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, AP World News
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
The Latest: Trump: 'a lot of people killed' in Pittsburgh
The Latest: Trump says 'a lot of people killed' in Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, 'looks definitely like it's an anti-Semitic crime'
2:37PM ( 8 minutes ago )
Saudi FM says global outcry over Khashoggi 'hysterical'
Saudi Arabia's top diplomat says the global outcry over the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has become "hysterical," while vowing that the kingdom is determined to bring the perpetrators to justice
2:37PM ( 8 minutes ago )
Syrians must lead peace efforts, leaders say at Turkey talks
Leaders of Turkey, Russia, France and Germany say Syrians must lead peace efforts in their war-torn country
2:35PM ( 11 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
The Latest: Authorities identify synagogue shooter
The Latest: A law enforcement official has identified the suspect in a shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue as Robert Bowers
1:37PM ( 1 hour ago )
Dodgers win Late, Late Late Show, cut Red Sox lead to 2-1
Dodgers win Late Late Show at World Series, an 18-inning marathon lasting nearly 7 ½ hours
1:27PM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: AG: Pittsburgh shooter claimed innocent lives
The Latest: Pennsylvania attorney general says 'shooter claimed innocent lives' at a baby naming ceremony
1:17PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Serbian govt criticized for publishing war criminals' books
A rights group on Saturday sharply criticized the Serbian government because the defense ministry has published and promoted books that include war memories of two former generals convicted of war crimes by a U.N. court
12:15PM ( 2 hours ago )
Islanders brace for long recovery in typhoon's aftermath
Many people in a U.S. Pacific territory ravaged by a deadly super typhoon lost everything, but residents say they're resilient and are focusing on the long recovery ahead.
11:53AM ( 2 hours ago )
US tourist helps stop thief who tried to steal Magna Carta
An American tourist from Louisiana helped stop a hammer-wielding thief who unsuccessfully tried to steal the Magna Carta at Salisbury Cathedral, working in tandem with a church employee to prevent the man from escaping
11:28AM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Online National News
The Latest: Trump: 'a lot of people killed' in Pittsburgh
The Latest: Trump says 'a lot of people killed' in Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, 'looks definitely like it's an anti-Semitic crime'
2:37PM ( 8 minutes ago )
Saudi FM says global outcry over Khashoggi 'hysterical'
Saudi Arabia's top diplomat says the global outcry over the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has become "hysterical," while vowing that the kingdom is determined to bring the perpetrators to justice
2:37PM ( 8 minutes ago )
The Latest: Shocked reactions to deadly synagogue shooting
The Latest: Shocked reactions are pouring in in response to the deadly shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh
2:21PM ( 25 minutes ago )
Suspect in custody in deadly Pittsburgh synagogue attack
A shooter opened fire during a baby naming ceremony at a Pittsburgh synagogue on Saturday, killing at least several people and wounding six others including four police officers who dashed to the scene, authorities said
2:19PM ( 27 minutes ago )
Trump says Pittsburgh attack lays bare 'hate' in US
President Donald Trump is lamenting the attack by a shooter on a Pittsburgh synagogue, saying it lays bare "hate in our country"
2:11PM ( 34 minutes ago )