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Safe zone vital for stability, return of Syrian refugees: Turkish FM

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Turkey’s foreign minister on Thursday said a proposed safe zone in northern Syria is important for both the country’s stability and displaced Syrians’ return home, the state-run Anadolu agency reported.

It should emerge at upcoming talks whether Turkish and US views are overlapping or not concerning the idea of a Syrian safe zone, something first brought up by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at the beginning of the Syria crisis, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu told a joint press conference with his Macedonian counterpart, Nikola Dimitrov.

“The first talks about that were held between our Chief of General Staff Yaşar Güler and [his US counterpart] Joseph Dunford in Brussels,” Çavuşoğlu said.

“A safe zone in northern Syria is important for stability, the return home of Syrians including our Kurdish brothers and the fight against terrorism,” he added.

The safe zone issue was first brought to the global stage when Erdoğan visited the US nearly six years ago, in May 2013.

Erdoğan proposed a three-stage plan that included a no-fly zone, a safe zone for civilians and launching a joint land operation along with coalition forces.

A safe zone could enable all internally displaced Syrians to gather as well as civilians taking refuge in Turkey to return and settle.

US President Donald Trump last month announced the withdrawal of American forces from Syria.

Trump made the decision after a phone call with Erdoğan in which the two leaders agreed on the need for more effective coordination over the civil war-torn country.

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