Saudi Arabia to support de-escalation zones in Syria

ALI ÜNAL @ali_unal
ANKARA
Published 04.06.2017 22:08

Saudi Arabian Ambassador to Turkey Walid Bin Abdul Karim El Khereiji said Saudi Arabia supports plans to establish "de-escalation zones" in Syria to provide a safe haven for Syrian refugees. Speaking to a group of journalists who participated in an iftar (fast-breaking dinner) organized by the Saudi Embassy in Ankara on June 3, Ambassador Walid Bin Abdul Karim said Saudi Arabia's policy on Syria is in line with that of Turkey, adding that they support plans to establish de-escalation zones in Syria. The ambassador also said it is very early to define the scope of that support since it is not currently in the implementation phase.

Plans to establish "de-escalation zones" in Syria were initiated by Turkey and Russia and brought into effect on May 4 during the Astana meeting, however, experts predict that it will take some time before all details are worked out and designated safe areas are fully established. According to the memorandum signed in Astana, there will be several de-escalation zones namely in Idlib, parts of Aleppo, Latakia, Homs, Damascus/Eastern Ghouta and parts of Daraa and Quneitra.

Commenting on the Syrian conflict, the ambassador said a political solution in accordance with the Geneva conference is the only solution for restoring stability in the war-torn country. Touching upon the current level of Saudi-Turkish bilateral relations, the ambassador expressed his gratification for the increased level of cooperation in various areas, adding that he is determined to deepen Turkish-Saudi relations during his tenure in Ankara. "I'm happy to see that deeply rooted, multi-dimensional Turkish-Saudi relations have gained new momentum with the high-level visits that took place recently. Turkish-Saudi foreign policies overlap in many areas and we would like to strengthen our relations in the sectors of the economy, culture and education by implementing recently signed bilateral agreements," the ambassador added.

Bilateral relations between the two countries have involved frequent, high-level visits carried out within the framework of the Joint Economic Trade Commission, the Turkish-Saudi Coordination Council, the Business Council, economic forums, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

In February, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan paid a visit to Saudi Arabia and met with King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. Erdoğan and his Saudi counterpart discussed economic relations during a meeting that was reportedly very productive and sincere. The Turkish-Saudi Coordination Council, which held its first meeting in Ankara in recent months, was instructed to plan concrete projects in the fields of the economy, energy, the defense industry, infrastructure, superstructure and joint investment areas. The council is scheduled to prepare an action plan within the next six months that will be submitted to the relevant authorities.

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