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Turkish President Erdogan ‘Rejects Trump’s Middle East plan of Disaster’

(Ankara):- Turkish President Erdogan also slammed Russia’s role in Syria’s Idlib, saying Moscow is “not honouring” agreements with Ankara.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lambasted a Middle East plan unveiled by US counterpart Donald Trump as “absolutely unacceptable” in comments published on Wednesday.

“Jerusalem is sacred for Muslims. The plan to give Jerusalem to Israel is absolutely unacceptable. This plan ignores Palestinians’ rights and is aimed at legitimising Israel’s occupation,” Erdogan said, quoted by CNN Turk broadcaster.

“The plan outlined will not serve peace or bring about a solution.”

Trump revealed on Tuesday the long-awaited plan aimed at resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying Jerusalem would remain Israel’s “undivided capital.”

As part of the plan, future Palestinian statehood would be based on a series of strict conditions, including recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, keeping Israeli settlements intact and requiring the future Palestinian state to be “demilitarised”.

When Washington recognised the capital of Israel as Jerusalem in 2017 and moved the embassy there, Turkish officials repeatedly criticised Trump’s decision.

Russia ‘not honouring’ Syria agreements

Erdogan also said Moscow is “not honouring” agreements made with Ankara for northwestern Syria, where Russian warplanes and regime forces have ramped up their assault, in remarks published on Wednesday.

“There have been agreements made with Russia. If Russia honours these agreements, we will do the same. But right now, unfortunately, Russia is not honouring these agreements,” Erdogan said, quoted by Turkish newspaper Hurriyet Daily News.

Despite being on opposite sides of the war, Damascus ally Moscow and opposition supporter Ankara have worked closely to resolve the conflict. Iran, which also backs the regime, has also been part of their talks.

On Tuesday, the Syrian regime took control of Maarat al Numan, a key rebel and opposition stronghold town in Idlib, with the help of Russian warplanes.

Patience ‘running thin’

This was rare criticism from Erdogan, who has often sought to keep good relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin since a 2016 rapprochement.

But violence has raged in Idlib in spite of a 2018 Turkey-Russia agreement signed to prevent a full-scale Syrian offensive.

The deal was made in the Russian resort of Sochi.

As part of the Sochi deal, Turkey set up 12 observation posts, one of which was surrounded by Syrian regime leader Bashar al Assad’s forces in December.

There have been numerous ceasefires for the region home to some three million people, including one sponsored by Moscow and Ankara earlier this month.

Yet eight civilians were killed on Thursday by Russian air strikes in Idlib, a region to which many people fled during the war.

Erdogan said Turkish officials continued their talks with Russian counterparts, adding that they had said that Turkey’s “patience was running thin.”

The president warned Turkey “would do whatever is necessary” if the bombing in Idlib does not stop.

The Turkish defence ministry on Tuesday said Turkey would retaliate in self-defence if any of the posts were threatened.

One of Ankara’s major concerns is of a refugee influx to Turkey from those fleeing violence.

But Erdogan on Sunday said Turkey was working on constructing homes inside Syria after the UN said nearly 360,000 people had been displaced.

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