Turkey to resume dialogue with Syria
Syria-Turkey, Politics, 2/6/1998
The London-based al-Hayat daily quoted Western diplomatic sources as saying that contacts between theTurkish and Syrian foreign ministries were resumed following Eid al-Fitr holiday to arrange a visit of the secretary-general of the Turkish Foreign Ministry, Kurkmaz Hakmatar, to Damascus in the context of a Turkish initiative to resume the dialogue suspended between the two countries since the end of 1995.
In a report from Damascus the paper said Turkey did not precondition, in the context of the initiative, the handing over of the leader of the Kurdistani Labor Party, Abdullah Ojlan, to Ankara.
The paper noted that the preliminary date for the visit will be February 20 and that Hakmatar's talks are likely to be followed by meetings between the two countries' ministers of foreign affairs and interior prior to resuming meetings of the joint technical committees on waters, borders and security. Al-Hayat continued that the Turkish ambassador in Damascus, Jing Dumatih, has recently met with the the spokesperson of the West Europe department at the Syrian Foreign Ministry, Siba Nasser, and the deputy Foreign Minister, Adnan Omran.
The Turkish official is scheduled during his visit to Damascus to meet with Omran and other Syrian officials. The sources added that the visit's agenda does not include discussions on the Kurdish Labor Party nor any other sensitive topics, rather discussions will be centered on means of building the dialogue, thereby to preserve common interests.
On the reasons behind Turkey's approval of maintaining dialogue after having repeatedly refused such a dialogue, the sources elaborated several reasons including that Turkish officials have started to become convinced of the need not to link the future of important relations with a neighboring state with the person of one man (Ojlan), and other reasons such as the changes in several high-ranking posts in the Turkish Foreign Ministry, especially the former Turkish ambassador to Damascus who opposed strengthening relations with Syria.
The sources said the new Turkish ambassador in Damascus, Dumatih, is exerting relentless efforts to resume dialogue with Syria.
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