Turkey and Russia on Thursday called for a cease-fire as a first step to ending Syria’s five-year conflict.
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov -- whose countries support opposing sides in the war -- said they had agreed on the need to provide humanitarian aid.
“The recent situation in Syria is clear,” Cavusoglu said at a news conference in the southern Turkish resort district of Alanya. “Unfortunately, civilians are dying... But there should be a cease-fire in Syria. Humanitarian aid should be provided... With regard to Syrian territorial integrity and unity, we are in agreement with Russia.”
Lavrov added that both Russia and Turkey “should make sure [the flow of] humanitarian aid keeps going on. We remain in cooperation on this issue.”
Previous cease-fires backed by Russia and the U.S. have failed to hold or provide the guarantees needed to allow aid to be delivered.
Supplies of humanitarian aid to civilians have been severely restricted due to the ongoing fighting, particularly in Aleppo, where Syrian regime forces backed by Russian air power have been bombarding opposition fighters in the city’s eastern districts.
Russia supports the regime of Bashar al-Assad while Turkey has backed opposition groups seeking to topple him. In August, Turkey launched an operation in northern Syria to rid the area of Daesh terrorists. However, earlier this week President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the operation was also aimed at deposing Assad.
Cavusoglu re-emphasized Turkey’s support for Syria’s unity in any post-conflict solution. “Unless a political solution as well as the national unity and territorial integrity of Syria are secured, you can clear Daesh but another terror group emerges after that,” he said.
Lavrov said Turkey and Russia -- whose relations temporarily strained after Turkey downed a Russian warplane on the Syrian border a year ago -- needed to speed up the “normalization process”. Cavusoglu said the process should be accelerated and all obstacles removed.
“We agreed on lifting sanctions,” he said. “Tourism, visa, security issues were discussed. We will do our best to speed up the process.”
The ministers also agreed to bolster relations in areas such as the economy, trade and energy.
“Our objective is to continue Turkey-Russia cooperation by gaining strength and to make sure this is not just in favor of both countries but the region as well,” Cavusoglu said.
“We intend to take our relations further than before and to strengthen our bilateral relations in all areas.”
He added that the two nations had set a goal to increase trading volume to $100 billion by 2023.
Reporting by Leyla Ataman Koyuncuoglu;Writing by Ahmet Sait AkcayAnadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.