By Diyar Guldogan
Turkey does not want a new humanitarian crisis to arise in Syria, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday.
"Neither in Idlib nor in other regions of Syria do we want a new humanitarian crisis and new tragedies to arise," Erdogan told a news conference with his Russian and Iranian counterparts following a trilateral summit on Syria in Russia's coastal city of Sochi.
Erdogan said Turkey will continue to do its part on Idlib deal. He also called on the Syrian regime to obey the cease-fire agreement.
"Hopes for a political solution to the Syrian crisis are sprouting as never before," he said.
Turkey's concern is to ensure Syria's territorial integrity and clear terror groups from Syria's Manbij, the president stressed.
“Similarly, no playground should be left to terror organizations in Idlib. The owners of these lands are Syrian people,” he said.
He hoped that the Syrian constitutional committee will be formed "as soon as possible" so that Syrians can determine their own future.
“There is no speed that we expected in works on [setting up] constitutional committee yet,” Erdogan added.
Turning to the U.S. withdrawal of troops from Syria, Erdogan said: “What will happen is unknown right now. We, as trilateral countries of Astana process, will follow the steps to be taken on this subject.”
Last December, Trump abruptly announced plans to withdraw all 2,000 American troops from the war-weary country, saying the U.S.-led coalition had succeeded in militarily defeating the Daesh terrorist group.
In his remarks, Erdogan also criticized international organizations for failing to financially support Syrians living in Turkey.
"The EU has only sent 1,7 billion Euro so far, while the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has sent around $750 million," said Erdogan, adding this amount was sent to international aid organizations, not to Turkey’s budget.
“We’ve spent around $35 billion from our own resources,” he added.
The president announced that the next round of the trilateral meeting between the leaders of Turkey, Russia, and Iran will be held in Turkey in upcoming months.
Following the summit, Erdogan, Putin, and Rouhani sat down to a working dinner in the city, which was closed to press.
Later, three leaders together with their Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko gathered for a closed-door meeting.
No further details of the meeting have been provided.
Erdogan, Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani first met in Sochi in 2017.
Turkey, Russia, and Iran are guarantor countries which brokered a cease-fire in Syria in December 2016, leading to the Astana talks, which are running parallel to the Geneva talks.
Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early
Since then, hundreds of thousands of people are believed to have been killed and millions more displaced by the conflict.
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