BFF-41 Macron tells Putin Syria ceasefire should be extended





Macron tells Putin Syria ceasefire should be extended

PARIS, Oct 21, 2019 (BSS/AFP) – French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday told his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin that France wanted to see an extension of a ceasefire by Turkey in northeast Syria, the Elysee Palace said in a statement.

“The president underscored the importance of prolonging the current ceasefire, and of ending the crisis with diplomatic means,” the presidency said after a phone call between the two leaders.

Turkey has agreed to halt its incursion against Kurdish forces in Syria until 10:00 pm (1900 GMT) on Tuesday if they withdraw from a 120-kilometre (75-mile) “safe zone” near the Turkish border.

Turkey has warned it will resume its attacks against any Kurdish forces left in the so-called “safe zone” after Tuesday night’s deadline.

The call by Macron and Putin came ahead of a visit to the Russian resort city of Sochi on Tuesday by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for talks with Putin.

Russia is Turkey’s strongest backer, and will be key to Ankara’s plans to extend the safe zone, which have been thwarted for now by the arrival of Syrian government troops.

Turkey views the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia as terrorists, though the forces were crucial to the defeat of the Islamic State group in Syria earlier this year.

Turkey launched its offensive on October 9 after US President Donald Trump surprised his allies in the anti-terrorist coalition by announcing that he was withdrawing the bulk of US troops from northeast Syria.

According to a Kremlin statement after Monday’s call, Putin told Macron of “Russia’s efforts aimed at stabilising the situation in the region,” including by establishing contacts between the various parties.

The two leaders also agreed that “it was necessary to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity” of Syria, the statement said, without providing further details.

The French presidency also said that Macron and Putin discussed preparations for a coming summit on ending the conflict in Ukraine.

Macron is expected to host the so-called “Normandy Four” summit with Ukraine and Russia as well as Germany, though no date has been set.

Moscow has said a number of conditions should be met before the four-way summit can take place, while Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky says Russia must pull its troops out of the country’s east before any such meeting.