US, Russia, Turkey and S.Arabia to continue talks on Syria

The U.S., Russia, Turkey and Saudi Arabia have agreed on Friday to continue their talks for a political solution in Syria, despite differences remaining concerning the role of al-Assad in Syria’s future.

“There are still some gaps with regards to the departure of Bashar al-Assad and the timing of such a departure,” Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said after four-party talks.

His remarks came after top diplomats of the U.S., Russia, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia met for the first time at a four-party meeting on Syria.

But he underlined that talks will continue possibly with the involvement of other regional actors.

“We agreed to continue to have further discussions and consultations, perhaps with a broader range of countries in order to see if we can arrive at a consensus for moving forward with regards to Syria,” he said.

He did not name the countries, which could be involved in the dialogue.

“Our principles and objectives over the Syrian issue are clear and accepted by both the opposition and the ally countries as the only way to reach peace and stability in the country,” added Turkey’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Tanju Bilgic. 

Bilgic has also pointed to a possible new meeting next week. 

Russia, meanwhile, has been in a stronger political engagement on the Syrian crisis and provide military support for the regime in Damascus.   

Syrian President al-Assad made a surprise visit to Moscow on Tuesday. 

Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov dismissed on Friday speculations that he has agreed with foreign ministers of U.S., Turkey, and Saudi Arabia on the departure of al-Assad.

He renewed his proposal of involving other regional powers like Egypt and Iran to the dialogue started with U.S., Turkey, and Saudi Arabia.

So far Saudi Arabia has opposed sitting at the same table with Iran, its key rival in the region, which it blames for supporting the Assad regime. 

Both Saudi Arabia and Turkey call for a transition process in Syria with the removal of Assad from power.

Turkey has denied claims that it was ready to accept a period in Syria with al-Assad at the helm.

“There is no change in Turkey’s policy over Syria in terms of basic parameters and dynamics,” Justice and Development (AK) Party Deputy Chairman Omer Celik told reporters in Ankara on Thursday. 

“There has been no progress [in Syria] which [would in turn] require a change [in Turkey’s policy].”

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