Turkey, Russia, Iran to hold Syria talks next week

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (C), Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (R) and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu attend a meeting on Syria in Astana on March 16, 2018. (File/AFP)
Updated 19 November 2018
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Turkey, Russia, Iran to hold Syria talks next week

ASTANA: Russia, Iran and Turkey will hold the next round of talks on Syria's conflict on November 28-29 in the Kazakh capital Astana, Kazakhstan's foreign minister said on Monday.
"The participants plan to discuss the current situation in Syria, in particular in Idlib, creating conditions for the return of refugees and internally displaced people, and post-conflict reconstruction," Kairat Abdrakhmanov said in Astana.
The meeting will be the 11th in the Astana peace process -- set up in early 2017 by Russia and Iran, who support President Bashar al-Assad's regime in Syria, and opposition backer Turkey.
Abdrakhmanov said representatives of Damascus and armed opposition groups would take part, but did not specify what level of officials from Russia, Iran and Turkey would attend.
The Astana process was launched after Russia's military intervention in Syria tipped the balance in the regime's favour. It has gradually eclipsed an earlier UN-sponsored negotiations framework known as the Geneva process.
This month's meeting comes with continued violence threatening plans for a buffer zone around Idlib, the last major opposition stronghold in Syria.
Russia and Turkey agreed in September to set up the buffer zone to avert a Syrian regime offensive, but jihadists who hold around 70 percent of the area have refused to withdraw.
Fighting in the area has continued, with jihadists on Friday killing 22 regime fighters in an attack on government forces in the northwest of Hama province near the planned zone.


Qatar says invited to emergency Arab summits in Makkah by Saudi King

Updated 23 sec ago
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Qatar says invited to emergency Arab summits in Makkah by Saudi King

  • Last week Qatar said it had not been invited to the two summits Saudi is planning in Islam’s holiest site

CAIRO: Qatar has been invited by Saudi Arabia to attend two emergency Arab summits being convened in the Saudi city of Makkah on May 30, Qatar’s foreign ministry said on Sunday, after previously saying it had not been.

Last week Qatar said it had not been invited to the two summits Saudi is planning in Islam’s holiest site to discuss the implications of drone strikes on oil installations in the kingdom and attacks on four vessels, including two Saudi oil tankers, off the UAE coast earlier this month.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt have imposed an economic and diplomatic boycott on Qatar since June 2017 over allegations that Doha supports terrorism and is cosying up to regional foe Iran. Qatar denies the charges.

Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani received an invitation from Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to attend the summit of Gulf Arab rulers and a wider meeting of Arab leaders, the Qatari Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The invitation and a letter was passed to Qatar by the head of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the statement said, without saying whether Qatar would accept it.