US will be invited to Astana talks: Turkish FM

Ankara, Jan 15 (IANS) The United States would be invited to Syrian peace talks due to be held on January 23 in Astana, Kazakhstan, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said.

Officials from Turkey, Russia, and Iran met in Moscow on Friday in preparation for the summit, and decided to invite the US to the negotiations, Xinhua Agency reported.

“We have agreed to invite the US to the talks. The US will be in Astana. We do not deny the contribution and role of the US,” Cavusoglu said on Saturday.

The Foreign Minister also stressed that Turkey opposed to the inclusion of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in the peace talks.

“If you invite a terrorist group (YPG), then you should also invite Al-Nusra, the Islamic State. This is nonsense,” he said, adding that Washington must end its cooperation with terrorist groups.

“We clearly say that all weapons supplied by the US to the Democratic Union Party (PYD) ended up in the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) hands,” the minister added.

Turkey considers the PYD and its armed wing, the YPG, to be the Syrian offshoots of the PKK, yet Washington does not list the YPG as a terrorist group.

Cavusoglu’s comments came in the wake of US States Department spokesman Mark Toner’s statements to the press on Tuesday. Toner said the PYD should be party to any Syrian peace talks, and sooner or later have a place at the negotiating table.

Toner claimed the US supports any effort aimed at getting political negotiations back on track and solidifying the ceasefire in Syria.

The Assad regime and the moderate opposition will be expected to meet for talks for the first time in nearly a year in Astana.

–IANS

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