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Turkey Unhappy With Syria Talks        02/20 06:29

   ANKARA, Turkey (AP) -- Turkey's foreign minister said Thursday that Turkey 
and Russia have inched closer toward each other's positions during talks in 
Moscow this week on restoring calm in northwestern Syria, but that their 
discussions have not produced the results yet that Ankara desires. 

   The diplomat, Mevlut Cavusoglu, said Russian and Turkish delegations would 
hold further talks on how to reduce tensions in Syria's Idlib province and that 
the Turkish and Russian leaders could meet too, if necessary.

   "It is true that at the moment, there are differences in the (two sides') 
positions," Cavusoglu told state television TRT. The delegations narrowed their 
differences a bit but "are not yet at the point we want" to be at, he added.

   Cavusoglu's comments came a day after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan 
warned of an imminent military operation to force the Syrian government forces 
to retreat.

   "We could enter (Idlib) suddenly one night," Erdogan told legislators from 
his ruling party on Wednesday.

   The Syrian government forces have, for weeks, been conducting a crushing 
military campaign to recapture parts of the last rebel-held areas in Idlib 
province as well as the countryside of neighboring Aleppo province. The swift 
advances on multiple fronts have triggered the largest single wave of 
displacement in the nine-year civil war, with nearly 1 million people driven 
from their homes toward the Turkish border.

   The advance has strained cooperation between Moscow and Ankara --- which 
have been working together despite supporting opposing sides in the Syria 
conflict --- and led to direct clashes between Syrian and Turkish troops.

   Turkey and Russia have closely coordinated their moves in recent years in 
Idlib province. A truce reached between the two countries collapsed in late 
2019, leading to the current Syrian offensive, backed by Russia.

   Russian officials have said they hold Turkey responsible for the collapse of 
the cease-fire deal struck in Sochi, Russia, saying Ankara had not held up its 
end of the deal to rein in militants in Syria who continued attacking Syrian 
and Russian targets.


(KR)

 
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