Erdoğan, Putin likely to meet next week

DAILY SABAH WITH AA
ISTANBUL
Published 15.01.2019 21:59
Updated 16.01.2019 11:52

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Tuesday that he would "most likely" meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin next week, on Jan. 23.

"I will hold a one-on-one meeting with Mr. Putin," Erdoğan told reporters in parliament. Erdoğan added that they plan to hold a trilateral meeting with Russia and Iran.

Meanwhile, the president wrote an article for the Russian daily Kommersant Tuesday.

He said that Turkey would not seek anybody's permission to fight terrorism and that it reserved the right to target terrorists who threaten the country.

Erdoğan stressed that Turkey has no problem with Syrian Kurds or any other groups living within neighboring borders.

"The Syria crisis can only be solved by countries that will benefit from healing Syria's wounds," he added.

Erdoğan and Putin agreed in September 2018, following their talks in Sochi, to establish a demilitarized zone in Idlib in order to decrease tension and prevent a new conflict in the province.

According to the 10-article memorandum signed between Ankara and Moscow during the meeting, the Idlib de-escalation area will be preserved, and Turkish observation posts will be fortified and continue to function. Russia will also take all necessary measures to ensure that military operations and attacks on Idlib are avoided, and the existing status quo is maintained. The agreement also envisaged the removal of "all radical terrorist groups" from the demilitarized zone by October 2019.

On Monday, Ankara accused the Bashar Assad regime of provoking terrorism in Syria's northwestern Idlib de-escalation zone as Turkey pushes to establish stability and maintain peace amid clashes between the Syrian regime and opposition forces, as well as fighting between opposition groups.

Touching upon the Syrian regime's steadfast discomfort over the political process on the Syrian conflict, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said Tuesday at a press conference that the Sochi deal has been implemented successfully yet the regime continues to violate the deal. Çavuşoğlu added that media reports suggesting that the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) captured 50 percent of Idlib were wrong.

The Syrian regime has continued its aggression in Idlib, home to more than 3.5 million Syrians, many of whom fled from other cities in the war-torn country. On Sunday, regime forces and Iranian-backed terrorist groups fired artillery into villages situated inside the de-escalation zone, killing at least one civilian. According to local sources, the regime targeted villages in the countryside of the Homs and Idlib governorates.

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