Erdogan: Syria needs a future free of Assad

Turkey’s Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan (R) is escorted by Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a welcome ceremony hosted by Abe at the state guest house in Tokyo January 7, 2014. (Reuters)




A U.N.-hosted peace conference on Syria must work to remove President Bashar al-Assad from power because of his culpability for tens of thousands of deaths, Turkey’s Prime Minster said in Tokyo on Tuesday.

“In Geneva 2, we must make sure that… all the measures will not fail…so that we can (bring) in an era without Bashar al-Assad,” he said, referring to peace talks planned later this month in Switzerland.

The Syrian conflict is estimated to have claimed more than 130,000 lives, and has forced millions more to flee their homes.

“A person who has allowed that to happen still remaining at the top of the country cannot be accepted,” Erdogan said.

U.N. leader Ban Ki-moon has started sending out invitations to the so-called Geneva 2 peace talks, but Assad’s key ally Iran was not on the first list, U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said.

That could help pave the way for the opposition National Coalition, which has repeatedly stipulated that Iran must not be invited, to participate.

The 30 countries invited to the Geneva talks include Saudi Arabia, a major backer of the Syrian opposition, as well as the five U.N. Security Council permanent members — and Syria’s neighbours Turkey, Iraq and Jordan.

Japan’s foreign minister Fumio Kishida is also expected to attend.[Read more]