FM Çavuşoğlu, Russian counterpart Lavrov to meet in Turkey next week

DAILY SABAH WITH AGENCIES
ANKARA
Published
A handout picture released by the Russian Foreign Ministry shows Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu (L) in Sochi, Russia, 01 July 2016. (EPA Photo)
A handout picture released by the Russian Foreign Ministry shows Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu (L) in Sochi, Russia, 01 July 2016. (EPA Photo)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is scheduled to meet his Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu in Ankara on Aug. 13-14, to discuss bilateral and regional topics, with the situation in Syria, the Astana process, the quartet meeting in Istanbul and the Ankara-Moscow deal on the purchase of the S-400 air defense system expected be discussed.

Recent developments and the Astana process on Syria, which led to creating de-escalation zones in the war-torn country between the regime forces and internationally recognized opposition groups, is expected to be top issue of the meeting.

The latest situation in Syria and the Astana process that established a process of de-escalation in Syria between the regime forces and the internationally recognized opposition tops the agenda of the meeting.

De-escalation zones have been established in Idlib province. Yet, the Bashar Assad regime has not refrained from carrying out some attacks on the opposition. Turkey says Idlib is a red line, and if Assad continues attacks, the Astana talks will fail.

The Assad regime urged people in Idlib province to agree to a return of state rule and told them the war was nearing its end in leaflets dropped over the northwestern region on Thursday.

Negotiations are urgently needed to avert "a civilian bloodbath" in Syria's last major rebel bastion Idlib, the United Nations said Thursday, after regime forces shelled the area ahead of an expected assault.

"The war cannot be allowed to go to Idlib," the head of the United Nations humanitarian task force for Syria, Jan Egeland, told reporters in Geneva.

Idlib is home to about 2.5 million people, up to half of whom are rebels and civilians transferred en masse from other territory that fell to Syrian troops after intense assaults.

Egeland added that ensuring that Turkey keeps its border open for those who might flee an assault by Damascus is also a priority for the U.N.

The Astana talks, launched in the capital of Kazakhstan in January 2017, complement the U.N.-brokered talks in Geneva. Turkey, Russia and Iran initiated the nine-round talks in a bid to end the violence and improve the humanitarian situation in war-torn Syria.

The meeting of the two ministers is considered preliminary to the quartet meeting in Istanbul between Turkey, Russia, Germany and France. The quartet meeting where solutions for crises in Syria and Iraq are expected to be the main topic was announced by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on July 28 during his visit to the BRICS summit.

The purchase of the S-400 defense system, which caused tense relations between the U.S. and Turkey, is considered another agenda item. In December, Turkey officially signed a $2.5 billion agreement with Russia for the S-400s, Russia's most advanced long-range anti-aircraft missile system. With the move, Turkey is set to become the first NATO member country to acquire the system.

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