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Erdogan seeks to engage UN in Syria reconstruction

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan seeks to engage the United Nations in reconstruction work in northern Syria, where Ankara carried out Operation Peace Spring, as he himself told reporters on Wednesday.

“Whoever we tried to engage, turned evasive. No one has given a positive response so far, so the only thing left to do is urge the UN to step up its activities,” he said, as cited by NTV. At the same time, the president pointed out he wasn’t sure that dialogue with the UN would produce results.

“Together with Russia and the US, with whom we have reached agreements, as well as with coalition members, we would like to make a request to the UN. We would like to expand efforts [to reconstruct Syria] with its help,” Erdogan explained.

Commenting on European countries’ initiatives concerning talks on Syria, the Turkish president pointed out that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had suggested he take part in a quadrilateral meeting that would also involve German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron. “They suggested meeting in London but I said it wouldn’t do and offered to host the event in Istanbul or somewhere closer to the Syrian border, like Gaziantep and Sanliurfa. I told them to choose a date,” Erdogan noted. According to him, the European leaders responded that the meeting could take place on the sidelines of the NATO summit in London on December 3-4 but the Turkish president replied it could be held before or after the NATO event.

As for his visit to the US, scheduled for November 13, Erdogan said that “as of now, it is likely to take place.”

On October 9, Turkey launched a military incursion into northern Syria, codenaming it Operation Peace Spring, with the Turkish Armed Forces and the Ankara-backed Free Syrian Army carrying it out. Erdogan’s military campaign kicked off with airstrikes on the positions of the previously US-backed Kurdish units. The Erdogan government claimed that its goal is to clear the border area of what it calls ‘terrorists’ (Turkey’s broad label of the Kurdish forces) and establish a 30 km-long buffer zone in Syria’s north, where over 3 million Syrian refugees in Turkey would resettle.

On October 22, Presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia and Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey reached an agreement to give 150 hours to the Kurdish-led People’s Protection Units to withdraw from a 30-km zone along the Syria-Turkey border. Once it is done, the Russian and Turkish military will start joint patrol in the area.

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