Turkey, World

US will be invited to Astana talks on Syria: Turkish FM

But, Mevlut Cavusoglu stresses, Turkey will not accept terrorist PYD/YPG being included in peace talks

US will be invited to Astana talks on Syria: Turkish FM

By Burcu Arik


Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Saturday that the United States would be invited to the Jan. 23 Syrian peace summit in Astana, Kazakhstan.

Speaking to reporters at the 9th Ambassadors' Conference in the capital Ankara, Cavusoglu said that officials from Turkey, Russia, and Iran met in Moscow Friday in preparation for the summit.

"We have agreed to invite the U.S. to the talks. We will invite them. The U.S. will be in Astana. We do not deny the contribution and role of the U.S," Cavusoglu said.

U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Friday that the U.S. has not been invited to the talks.

Negotiations to reach a resolution to the six-year war in Syria are due to begin in Kazakhstan's capital Astana between the Syrian regime and opposition.

Following last month's Syria cease-fire deal, the Astana meeting comes as part of ongoing efforts by Turkey and Russia to promote a political solution in war-torn Syria.

Syria has been locked in a devastating civil war since early 2011, when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests – which erupted as part of the Arab Spring uprisings – with unexpected ferocity.

Since then, hundreds of thousands of people are believed to have been killed and millions more displaced by the conflict.

'PYD taking part in the talks is out of the question'

Rebuffing Washington’s insistence that the PYD -- the terrorist PKK's Syrian wing -- also be included in the Syria talks, Cavusoglu said, "Then the U.S. should invite the terrorist group Daesh, too".

"If you invite a terrorist group, then you should also invite Al-Nusra, Daesh. This is nonsense," Cavusoglu said, adding that Washington must end its cooperation with terrorist groups.

"We clearly say that all weapons supplied by the U.S. to the PYD ended up in PKK hands," the minister added.

Toner said last week that the PYD should attend the talks in Astana.

"This process has to include all Syrians, and that includes the Syrian Kurds," Toner said. Asked explicitly if the PYD should be at the table, Toner replied, "At some point they have to be part of this process."

Turkey considers the PYD and its armed wing, the YPG, to be Syrian offshoots of the PKK.

But Washington has refrained from following suit on the PYD and YPG, which it works with in the anti-Daesh fight under the umbrella of the so-called "Syrian Democratic Forces", much to Ankara's ire.

The U.S., EU, and Turkey have designated the PKK as a terror group

Over 1,100 people, including security personnel and civilians, have lost their lives in PKK attacks in Turkey since the terrorist group resumed its decades-old campaign in July 2015.

Since that month, PKK attacks have left 793 security personnel martyred and 314 civilians, including women and children, dead. Over 4,000 security personnel and over 2,000 civilians have been injured.

Also, more than 10,000 PKK terrorists have been killed or apprehended in anti-terror operations. Around 5,500 weapons, 652,000 rounds of ammunition, over 142 tons of explosives, and 15,000 bombs have been seized.

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