Turkey's Erdogan puts Syria, Iraq on G20 leaders' agenda

November 11, 2015 19:16
1 minute read.

ANKARA - President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday he wanted world leaders to discuss conflicts in Syria and Iraq at a G20 summit in Turkey this weekend and is ready to take "stronger steps" in the region after polls this month strengthened the ruling party,

Leaders of the Group of 20 major economies (G20), including the United States, China, Japan, Russia, Canada, Australia and Brazil, are to meet on Sunday and Monday in the Mediterranean resort of Antalya primarily to discuss global economic issues.

But host Turkey, a NATO member which has taken in more than two million refugees and faces a growing threat of spillover from the conflicts in neighboring Syria and Iraq, wants the heads of state to also discuss unrest over its southern borders.

"Our inclusion of issues of Iraq and Syria to the G20 agenda is not against the primary objectives of the platform," Erdogan told a business meeting in the capital Ankara.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Tuesday that Turkey would respond by air and land to threats from Syria and that a new strategy was needed in the country.

Turkey, which holds the rotating presidency of the G20 this year, is expected to press its argument that there can be no lasting peace in Syria without the departure of President Bashar Assad, and to try to dissuade Washington from lending greater support to Syrian Kurdish rebels fighting Islamic State.

The EU aspirant has seen its worst nightmare unfold in Syria. Ankara faces not only the threat from Islamic State along its border, but also the prospect of Assad, shielded by Russia and Iran, holding on to power, and Kurdish rebels backed by the United States making territorial gains.

Turkey, which opened its air bases in July to the US-led coalition against Islamic State, sees advances by Syrian Kurds along an area abutting Turkey as a threat to its security, fearing they could stoke separatism among its own Kurds.

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