Turkey: Peace in Syria requires Assad exit

Turkey: Peace in Syria requires Assad exit

Peace and stability in Syria are only possible if Bashar al-Assad leaves the political scene, the Turkish Foreign Minister said Saturday, Anadolu agency reported.

Endorsing the newly-approved road map by the United Nations in a statement, the ministry said the resolution was in line with the framework agreed upon in earlier meetings with broad-based participation.

"Achieving peace and stability in Syria will only be possible when -- on the road to free and fair elections -- a fully authorized transition government comes to power and the elements of the [Syrian] regime that had a role in the bloodshed, especially Bashar al-Assad, leave the scene," the statement said.

"Turkey will continue to contribute to the political process within this context", it added.

The UN Security Council on Friday adopted a resolution endorsing a peace plan set out during three rounds of international talks to foster an end to the Syria civil war.

The unanimously adopted resolution asks UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to bring together the Syrian government and the opposition "to engage in formal negotiations on a political transition process on an urgent basis, with a target of early January 2016 for the initiation of talks".

The resolution stipulates that all warring sides observe a nationwide cease-fire in parallel with the political transition process.

It also requests that Ban report back to the Security Council on the implementation of the resolution, "including on progress of the UN-facilitated political process", within 60 days.

The five permanent members of the council -- the U.S. Russia, the U.K., France and China -- agreed on the draft text of the resolution during Friday's third International Syria Support Group meeting in New York.

The meeting at New York Palace Hotel was attended by foreign ministers from 17 countries, including Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Iran.

The first two rounds of talks were held in Vienna where world powers agreed on a timeline that would let Syrian factions form a transitional governing body in six months and to hold UN-supervised national elections within 18 months. Friday's resolution also expressed its support for this timeline.

The Syrian civil war, now in its fifth year, has left more than 250,000 victims dead and made the country the world's single-largest source of refugees and displaced people, according to UN figures.

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