Turkey’s Erdogan meets Iran minister over Syria

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on April 17. (AFP)
Updated 17 April 2019
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Turkey’s Erdogan meets Iran minister over Syria

  • Turkey supports Syrian opposition rebels and Iran backs Assad in Syria’s long war
  • The two sides have been expanding contacts amid international efforts to end the fighting

ISTANBUL: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday met with Iran’s foreign minister, who arrived in Ankara to brief him on his meeting with Syria’s President Bashar Assad.
Turkey supports Syrian opposition rebels and Iran backs Assad in Syria’s long war, but the two sides have been expanding contacts amid international efforts to end the fighting.
Kazakhstan will host a fresh round of Syria talks on April 25-26 in its capital, recently renamed from Astana to Nur-Sultan.
“I had a long interview with Bashar Assad. I will be giving details of these discussions to Mr. Erdogan,” Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told reporters in translated comments.
Ankara broke ties with Damascus in 2011 after the start of the Syrian war, and Erdogan has in the past described Assad as an “assassin.”
But Erdogan acknowledged in February that low-level contacts have been taking place and his rhetoric has also softened in tone in recent months.
“In Syria, from the start, on the ground, we do not agree with Iran on many issues,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Wednesday. “But we have decided to cooperate with Iran for a political solution.”
Repeated rounds of UN-backed Syria peace talks have failed to end the bloodshed, and Iran, Russia and Turkey have sponsored the parallel so-called Astana negotiations since early 2017.
Talks among the three countries have focused on the militant-held bastion of Idlib in northwestern Syria, local Syrian media have reported.
That region bordering Turkey, is mostly held by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate, Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham, and is in theory protected from a massive Syrian regime offensive by a Russia-Turkey deal.
The September accord aimed to set up a buffer zone around Idlib, but was never fully implemented as militants refused to withdraw.


Libyan warplane makes emergency landing on road in southern Tunisia

Updated 57 min 29 sec ago
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Libyan warplane makes emergency landing on road in southern Tunisia

  • The pilot said he was forced to land because his L-39 warplane was damaged
  • Government of National Accord said the plane does not belong to them

TUNIS: A Libyan warplane made an emergency landing on a road in the southern Tunisian town of Beni Khadash on Monday and its pilot has been detained, according to Tunisia’s state news agency TAP.
The Tunisian Ministry of Defense said the pilot informed the authorities that he was forced to make the landing due to damage to his plane.
Tunisia’s air force prepared to intercept the L-39 warplane but it landed before it could be reached, the ministry said in a statement on its website.

Forces allied to the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) denied the warplane was one of theirs.
Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA), which is allied to a rival administration in eastern Libya and which mounted an offensive on Tripoli in early April, could not immediately be reached for comment.
Witnesses said the plane had landed on a road and been surrounded by civilian vehicles stopping to watch.