Tuesday, February 20, 2024

No ‘concessions to terrorists’ at talks: Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov today said there should be no “concessions to terrorists” at talks with his Turkish counterpart on Syria, a day after Moscow’s ambassador was murdered in Ankara.
“This tragedy forces all of us to fight more decisively against terrorism,” Lavrov told Turkey’s Mevlut Cavusoglu as they sat down together in Moscow.
“For this reason, I very much hope that our talks and the upcoming three-way meeting with our Iranian colleague will allow us to reach agreements, which will through concrete actions advance the settlement in Syria,” Lavrov said, also insisting that they should not allow “any concessions to terrorists”.
The foreign and defence ministers from Russia, Turkey and Iran are meeting in Moscow today for key talks on the conflict in Syria.
The meetings come after Russian envoy Andrei Karlov was gunned down Monday at the opening of a Russian photography exhibition in Ankara by a Turkish policeman crying “Aleppo” and “Allahu Akbar” (God is greatest), in what Moscow called a “terrorist act”.
Russia and Iran are on the opposite side of the Syrian conflict from Turkey with Moscow and Tehran backing leader Bashar al-Assad and Ankara supporting those seeking to topple him.
But Turkey and Russia have recently worked closely together to evacuate rebel fighters and civilians from the battered city of Aleppo.
Russian leader Vladimir Putin on Monday warned that the killing of Karlov was a “provocation” aimed at damaging ties with Turkey and undermining the latest efforts to reach a settlement on Syria.
Turkey detains six over envoy murder
Turkish authorities were today holding six people over the assassination of the Russian ambassador to Ankara by an off-duty policeman, as Russia urgently sought answers over the murder.
With the Turkish capital already on high alert after a string of attacks this year, an individual also fired outside the US embassy in Ankara overnight in a separate incident.
President Vladimir Putin declared “we have to know who directed the hand of the killer” and the Kremlin said a Russian investigative team were flying to Turkey to probe the murder.
An unprecedented three-way meeting between the foreign ministers of Turkey, Russia and Iran in Moscow over the Syria crisis was meanwhile set to go ahead despite the killing.
Ambassador Andrei Karlov was shot four times in the back by Turkish policeman Mevlut Mert Altintas, 22, as he opened an exhibition of Russian photography in Ankara.
Dramatic images showed Karlov stumble and then crash to the ground on his back as the attacker brandished his gun at terrified onlookers who cowered behind cocktail tables.
The gunman shouted and then said all those responsible for what has happened in Syria and Aleppo would be held accountable.
Altintas had set off the metal detector security check when he entered the exhibition in central Ankara as he was carrying a gun, the pro-government Sabah daily said.
But after showing his police ID, he was waved through and allowed to proceed.
The Hurriyet daily added that Altintas, who had worked for Ankara’s anti-riot police for the last two and a half years, had stayed at a nearby hotel to prepare for the attack.
It said Altintas, who was off duty at the time, had put on a suit and tie and shaved at the hotel before heading to the exhibition centre.
He was later killed by police after a shootout that lasted over 15 minutes.
Altintas was born in the town of Soke in Aydin province in western Turkey and attended a special school for training future policemen.
Six people have been detained over the attack, including the sister, mother, father and uncle of Altintas, Turkish media said.
The mayor of Ankara, Melih Gokcek, known for his outspoken comments, speculated on his official Twitter account that the attacker may be linked to the group of Fethullah Gulen, blamed for the July 15 coup aimed at toppling President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

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