Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE FMs to Meet in France over Syria Crisis

Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE FMs to Meet in France over Syria Crisis
Wed May 4, 2016 19:16:56

France says foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the main supporters of militants fighting against the Damascus government, are set to participate in talks in Paris next week to discuss the situation in Syria.

French government spokesman, Stephane Le Foll, said on Wednesday that his country will host the talks on Syria’s crisis and the breakdown of the UN-brokered peace negotiations on Monday.

The UN-brokered negotiations, aimed at finding a political solution to the crisis in Syria, began in the Swiss city of Geneva on April 13 and continued till the last scheduled day, April 27, despite the withdrawal of the main foreign-backed opposition group, known as the High Negotiations Committee (HNC), from the discussions. The Saudi-backed group left the talks to protest at what it called the Damascus government’s violation of cessation of hostilities.

A truce in Syria, brokered by Russia and the United States, went into effect late February in a bid to facilitate negotiations between warring sides to the conflict. However, an escalation in missile attacks by foreign-backed militants in recent weeks has left the ceasefire in tatters.

Le Foll further said that other senior diplomats from "countries that think negotiations should resume at all costs" may also take part in the meeting without providing any name.

The spokesman’s remarks came after a cabinet session, during which French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault voiced his concern over the halt of the Geneva peace talks following the eruption of violence in Aleppo city in northern Syria.

The spokesman also said that Paris backs "all initiatives to be taken towards a resumption of negotiations."

A meeting was scheduled to take place between Ayrault, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, UN special envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura and Riad Hijab, the HNC coordinator, in the German capital of Berlin later on Wednesday.

The UN Security Council is also set to hold an urgent meeting called by Paris and London later today in New York to discuss the situation in Aleppo.

New developments come as fierce clashes between Syrian forces and foreign-backed militants in Aleppo that began early on Tuesday have left dozens of people dead.

Various sources give conflicting figures of the number of casualties from both sides in the clashes.

Aleppo has been divided between government forces in the west and militants in the east since 2012, a year after the conflict broke out in Syria.

Diplomatic efforts are underway to halt the rising violence in the city, which has killed some 300 people since April 22.

Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. Over 400,000 people have been killed in the conflict, according to De Mistura.

Damascus accuses Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar of funding and arming anti-Syria terrorist groups, including ISIS, Press TV reported.

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