Merkel: London quartet meeting on Syria was good, useful

German chancellor says Turkish, French, British leaders discussed Syria, return of refugees, and fight against Daesh/ISIS


Germany’s chancellor on Tuesday said she had a “good and useful” meeting with the leaders of Turkey, France, and the U.K., and discussed their efforts to end the conflict in Syria.

Speaking to reporters in London after the quartet meeting at the British premier’s office, Number 10 Downing Street, Merkel said she and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson exchanged views on the fight against Daesh/ISIS, Turkey’s efforts for Syrian refugees, and UN-led talks for a political solution in Syria.

“We agreed that the fight against Daesh should continue,” she said, adding that authorities from these countries would continue their discussions on this matter.

“Secondly, we all reaffirmed our support for the efforts of U.N. Special Envoy [Geir] Pedersen for a political process, for the meeting of the Syrian Constitutional Committee, and we will be more active on that,” she said.

Merkel said the leaders also discussed Turkey’s efforts for the Syrian refugees, and plans for the voluntary return of refugees to areas in northern Syria, areas recently cleared of YPG/PKK terrorists by Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring.

“This could only be possible with the involvement of the United Nations and the UNHCR. We would like to remain in contact on this matter,” she said.

Turkey currently hosts some 3.6 million Syrian refugees, more than any other country in the world.

The four-way meeting came ahead of Wednesday’s NATO leaders summit.

The idea of a quartet meeting between the leaders was suggested by Johnson several weeks ago, following tensions between European capitals and Ankara over Turkey’s military operation against terrorist groups in northern Syria.

Several NATO allies, including France and Germany, have criticized the operation, expressing their concerns over a potential humanitarian crisis and wider instability in the region.

Ankara on the other expressed its determination to clear northern Syria both of Daesh/ISIS and the YPG/PKK terrorist groups and create a safe zone along the border for the voluntary resettlement of Syrian refugees.

In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK — listed as a terrorist organization by the U.S. and the EU — has been responsible for deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children and infants. The YPG is the PKK’s Syrian offshoot.

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