16:35 GMT +314 November 2019
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    In this Nov. 7, 2018, photo released by the U.S. Army, U.S. soldiers gather for a brief during a combined joint patrol rehearsal in Manbij, Syria

    Turkey: We Won't Exclude US, Russia if They Want to Cooperate on Syria Safe Zone

    © AP Photo / U.S. Army photo by Spc. Zoe Garbarino
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    Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, held negotiations on Syria in Moscow on 23 January, focusing on the creation of a security zone in the northern part of the war-torn country.

    Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has stated that Turkey will not exclude US, Russia or other countries if they want to cooperate in creating a safe zone.

    "We have no disagreements with the United States over Syria, except for one or two issues: they must sever relations with the YPG… There is no clarity about the safe zone yet, the dates are not on the agenda either, negotiations are ongoing. But no matter who creates this safe zone, this should be done only with [the participation of] Turkey", Cavusoglu told the A Haber broadcaster.

    Turkey and Russia are on the same page regarding the Syrian settlement aside from the issue of the future of Bashar al-Assad, according to Cavusoglu.

    "We are taking steps to form a constitutional commission in Syria together with the foreign ministers of Russia and Iran. Russia and Turkey are in agreement on a political solution to the crisis in Syria, except for the issue of Assad. We believe he should leave", Cavusoglu told the A Haber broadcaster.

    The foreign minister noted that Turkey was in indirect contact with the Syrian government, without providing any details.

    In an interview with broadcaster A Haber, Cavusoglu stated that Turkey and the United States had initiated discussions on who will be part of the administration for the Syrian city of Manbij, where Erdogan launched a military operation against Kurdish militias — which Ankara considers to be terrorist groups.

    READ MORE: Turkey Lifts Ban on Flights to Sulaymaniyah in Iraqi Kurdistan — Minister

    The statements follow a recent phone conversation between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and US President Donald Trump, in which the latter had proposed creating a 30-kilometre (18-mile) buffer zone in Syria. According to Erdogan, the future security zone will be controlled by the Turkish military.

    In early December, Erdogan announced that Ankara was ready to start a new military operation against the PKK-YPG [Kurdistan Workers' Party — Kurdish People's Protection Units] and Daesh* on the eastern bank of the Euphrates as well as in Manbij, Syria if the United States did not facilitate the withdrawal of the militia from the region.

    Later, the Turkish president suspended the operation following a December 14 phone conversation with US President Donald Trump, who announced plans to withdraw US troops from Syria.

    *Daesh (also known as ISIS/ISIL/IS) is a terrorist group banned in Russia

    Related:

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    Turkey Warns Syrian Army Against Entering Manbij
    Militants Who Planned New Terror Attacks Arrested in Syria – Manbij War Council
    Tags:
    safe zones, military operation, Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkey, Syria
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