Turkey to reopen Mosul consulate: Erdogan

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan greets his supporters as he leaves from a mosque following the Friday prayers in Ankara, Turkey, on Friday, August 3, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 05 August 2018
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Turkey to reopen Mosul consulate: Erdogan

  • The consulates general in Mosul and (the southern Iraqi city) of Basra will resume operations within 100 days
  • Turkey evacuated the Basra consulate for security reasons in 2014 a week after Daesh seized the Mosul mission

ANKARA: Turkey is set to open a consulate in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, four years after it was seized and its employees held hostage by Daesh, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday.
Ankara had opened a well-staffed consulate in Mosul before the rise of Daesh there and in neighboring Syria.
But 46 Turks, including diplomats, their children, special forces officers and other Turkish employees were taken hostage by the militants in June 2014. The hostages were freed in September 2014 after a three-month ordeal.
Symbolically, the consulate building was destroyed in a US-led coalition airstrike in April 2016 carried out in coordination with Ankara. The city was retaken by Iraqi forces in June 2017.
“The consulates general in Mosul and (the southern Iraqi city) of Basra will resume operations within 100 days,” Erdogan told a meeting on government plans after his June 24 election victory.
Turkish officials had previously indicated Ankara was keen to reopen the consulate in Mosul but this was the first mention that a time frame has been evoked.
Turkey evacuated the Basra consulate for security reasons in 2014 a week after Daesh seized the Mosul mission.
The circumstances in which the Mosul consulate staff were freed remain murky, with reports at the time indicating they had been released in exchange for Daesh militants held by Turkey.
Erdogan, then premier, insisted no ransom had been paid, saying there were “only diplomatic and political negotiations” and describing the outcome as “a diplomatic victory.”
The former Turkish consul general in Mosul who was kidnapped with the other Turks, Ozturk Yilmaz, went into politics and became a deputy chairman of the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and is its main spokesman on foreign affairs.


Ports deal is chance for Yemen peace talks, says UN envoy

Updated 21 February 2019
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Ports deal is chance for Yemen peace talks, says UN envoy

  • Forces will initially be withdrawn from the smaller ports of Salif and Ras Issa
  • The second phase a withdrawal of 18 to 30 kilometers, depending on the location and fighters

NEW YORK: The expected pullout of forces from three key ports in Yemen provides an opportunity to move to the major goal of ending the four-year conflict that has created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, the UN envoy for the war-battered country said on Tuesday.

Martin Griffiths told the UN Security Council that Yemen’s government and Houthi militias demonstrated that they are able to deliver on commitments they made in December in Stockholm by agreeing on the first phase of redeployment from the ports.

He said forces will initially be withdrawn from the smaller ports of Salif and Ras Issa, beginning “possibly” on Tuesday or Wednesday. This will be followed by a pullout from the major port of Hodeidah and critical parts of the city that will allow access to the Red Sea Mills, a major UN storage facility holding enough grain to feed 3.7 million people for a month, he said.

Griffiths called on the parties to fully implement the first phase and to agree on details of the second phase of the redeployment of forces, “which we hope will lead to the demilitarization” of Hodeidah, whose port handles about 70 percent of Yemen’s commercial and humanitarian imports.

A UN official said the first phase involves pulling back several kilometers, and the second phase a withdrawal of 18 to 30 kilometers, depending on the location and fighters. In some places in Hodeidah city, the opposing forces are facing each other about 100 meters apart, the official said.

The UN is appealing for more than $4 billion to assist 15 million Yemenis this year and UN Under-Secretary-General and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock implored donors to pledge generously at a conference next week in Geneva.