x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Gulf Cooperation Council and Turkey hold talks on Syria

A former ally of Syria, Turkey has spearheaded international criticism of the ongoing violent suppression of protests against Bashar Al Assad's government.

A Syrian soldier, who has defected to join the Free Syrian Army, holds up his rifle and waves a Syrian independence flag in the Damascus suburb of Saqba today.
A Syrian soldier, who has defected to join the Free Syrian Army, holds up his rifle and waves a Syrian independence flag in the Damascus suburb of Saqba today.

ISTANBUL // The Gulf Arab states and Turkey, which have spearheaded regional condemnation of the Syrian leadership for its deadly crackdown on opponents, held talks on the crisis in Istanbul on Saturday.

The meeting between the foreign ministers of Turkey and the Gulf Cooperation Council comes amid a new Arab and European quest to secure UN action over Syria's crackdown, which is opposed by Russia.

"We are adamant to turn the Middle East region into a basin for peace, stability and prosperity," Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said in opening remarks of the Istanbul talks.

The Security Council has been deadlocked for months on Syria. Russia and China vetoed a previous European resolution in October, accusing the West of seeking regime change.

Turkey, once a close ally of Syria, has been at the forefront of international criticism over the Damascus regime's crackdown on protests and has also become a haven for many Syrian opposition activists.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has urged his once close friend, President Bashar Al Assad, to quit.

The Turkish foreign ministry said the number of civilian losses in Syria has reached "an alarming" rate.

"It has now become imperative for all the relevant actors of the international community, the United Nations Security Council in particular, to take the necessary steps resolutely and urgently," said the ministry in a statement released late on Friday.