U.S. will be invited to Astana talks: Turkish FM

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ANKARA,   (Xinhua) — The United States would be invited to Syrian peace talks due to be held on Jan. 23 in Astana, Kazakhstan, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Saturday.

Officials from Turkey, Russia, and Iran met in Moscow Friday in preparation for the summit, and decided to invite the U.S. to the negotiations, state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

“We have agreed to invite the U.S. to the talks. The U.S. will be in Astana. We do not deny the contribution and role of the U.S.,” Cavusoglu said at the 9th Ambassadors’ Conference in Ankara.

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 U.S. 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 U.S. 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 U.S. supports any effort aimed at getting political negotiations back on track and solidifying the ceasefire in Syria.

The State Department would make a recommendation to the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump once they receive an invitation to Astana, he added.

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

Editor:huaxia