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15 November, 2017 00:00 00 AM

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Syria blasts US for tying military presence to peace talks

AFP
Syria blasts US for tying military presence to peace talks

DAMASCUS: Damascus yesterday blasted US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis for saying a US-led coalition would continue fighting in Syria until talks to end the conflict there make progress, reports AFP.

Mattis told reporters on Monday that the US-led coalition’s goal was to battle the Islamic State group while finding a diplomatic solution to Syria’s six-year war.

But Syria’s foreign ministry shot back on Tuesday, saying it “categorically rejected” US efforts to link peace talks to military action.

“Linking the US’s presence in Syria to a settlement process is just a pretext and an attempt to justify this presence,” said a source at the foreign ministry, quoted by state news agency SANA.

“The United States and others will not be able to impose any solution with military pressure—on the contrary, this presence will only prolong and complicate the crisis,” said the statement.

It demanded the “immediate and unconditional withdrawal of US forces” from Syrian territory.

The US and Russia issued a joint presidential statement on Saturday saying there was “no military solution” to Syria’s grinding conflict.

On Monday, Mattis said the coalition would keep fighting to “set the conditions for a diplomatic solution”.

“We’re not just going to walk away right now until the Geneva process has traction,” he told reporters.

A new round of negotiations is scheduled to take place from November 28, a process headed by the UN special envoy on Syria, Staffan de Mistura.

Seven previous sessions between the Syrian regime and the opposition failed to overcome the main obstacle—the fate of President Bashar al-Assad.

More than 330,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began in March 2011 with anti-government protests.

Another report adds:  Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed Monday on the need to boost efforts to achieve a lasting political settlement in Syria, reports AFP.

Despite being on opposing sides of the Syrian conflict, Russia and Turkey have been working together since a 2016 reconciliation deal ended a crisis caused by the shooting down of a Russian warplane.

During four hours of talks at the Black Sea resort of Sochi, in southwest Russia. the two sides agreed on the need to do more to stabilise Syria, Putin said.

"We are united in the need to increase efforts to ensure the long-term stabilisation (of Syria), above all to advance the process of a political settlement," the Russian leader told reporters after the meeting.

"We agreed that there is now a base which allows us to focus on the political process," said Erdogan.

The pair last met in Ankara in September, when they agreed to push for the creation of a "de-escalation" zone in Syria's key northern province of Idlib, in addition to others already proposed.

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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