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Turkey rejects Kurds taking part in Syria talks

December 31, 2016 at 1:04 pm

Turkish authorities encouraged yesterday the participation of the UN and US in the proposed Syrian peace talks planned to take place in the Kazakhstan capital of Astana, but rejected Kurdish militant participation.

For Turkey, the PYD and the YPG are the Syrian wing of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been fighting for decades to achieve Kurdish independence on Turkish territory. The PKK’s insurgency has claimed tens of thousands of lives in Turkey, most of them civilians.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said: “In the beginning, Russia told us that a terrorist organisation like the YPG will not attend the Astana talks.”

He added: “If the PYD and the YPG laid down their arms and accepted the unity of Syria, it is possible to enlist them in the framework of a comprehensive solution.”

A Syrian ceasefire sponsored by Turkey and Russia started on Friday ahead of talks hosted by Kazakhstan, a close ally of Russia.

Earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the US might join the peace process after President-elect Donald Trump takes office on 20 January. He also hoped that Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Iraq, Jordan and the UN would join the peace process.