Turkey 'not against' Syrian national dialogue congress

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Russian city of Sochi says composition of such a congress is 'important' to Ankara

Turkey 'not against' Syrian national dialogue congress

By Diyar Guldogan

SOCHI, Russia

Turkey is not against a Syrian national dialogue congress, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Monday.

"We are not against any kind of congress in principle but firstly the composition is important," he told reporters in English in Russia's coastal city of Sochi, Cavusoglu.

“On the one side there is the regime, on the other side is the opposition. The real opposition should be on the other side."

During the last round of peace talks on Syria in Kazakh capital Astana late last month, three guarantor countries -- Russia, Turkey, and Iran -- agreed to discuss proposals for holding a national dialogue conference.

Moscow invited all Syrian opposition forces to attend the planned congress, which is slated for Nov. 18 in Sochi.

However, the Syrian opposition’s High Negotiations Committee and the Syrian Coalition of Revolutionary and Opposition Forces both appear to have declined invitations to take part in the conference.

"No terrorist groups should be included in the congress," the Turkish foreign minister said.

"In principle, we are not against [the congress] and Russia made this proposal at the last Astana meeting. I am sure this is one of the issues that our leaders [Presidents Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin] are now talking about," he added.

Cavusoglu reiterated that the PYD/YPG was a terrorist organization, adding there was no difference between it and the PKK.

"There is no place for terrorist organization among the opposition," he added.

About the meeting between Erdogan and Putin, Cavusoglu said: "We have normalized ties. We have overcome all disputed issues.

“Bilateral trade is increasing. But we have regional issues that Turkey and Russia are working on together. Syria is one of them."

He added the two countries had made "a lot of" achievements in Astana.

He also called for more cooperation for the sake of Syria’s security and stability of Syria.

He said fighting against terrorist organizations in Syria was not "enough" to bring stability there; political solution is also "important".

"We believe that the best solution is a political solution." 

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