Turkey calls on Russia to stop regime attacks on Syria's Idlib

Turkish foreign minister on Sunday said he has reiterated the necessity of permanent cease-fire in Idlib, northwestern, during his meeting with his Russian counterpart in Munich. "I have met with Sergey Lavrov and said the aggression in Idlib should stop," Mevlut Çavuşoğlu told reporters after the 56th .

's Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Sunday that he told his Russian counterpart at a meeting the previous day that attacks in 's northwestern Idlib region must stop immediately and that a lasting ceasefire has to be achieved.

Turkey and back opposing sides in the Syrian conflict but have collaborated on a political solution. However, a recent regime offensive in Idlib has raised tensions between Ankara and Moscow.

Speaking in Germany after the Munich Security Conference, Çavuşoğlu also said he met with U.S. lawmakers at the conference, and added that Washington should work to improve relations with Turkey anyway, not just because of tensions between Turkey and Russia.

In September 2018, Turkey and Russia agreed to turn Idlib into a de-escalation zone in which acts of aggression are expressly prohibited.

But more than 1,800 civilians have been killed in attacks by regime and Russian forces since then, flouting both the 2018 cease-fire and a new one that started on Jan. 12.

Çavuşoğlu said he has once again emphasized the necessity of the permanent cease-fire in Libya during the ministerial meeting in Munich.

Turkey has contributed significantly to international efforts for the cease-fire, said Çavuşoğlu, adding illegitimate armed forces loyal to renegade commander Khalifa Haftar have been continuing violations.

An international monitoring mechanism should be established under the auspices of the UN, he added.

World powers and regional actors have launched on Sunday an international committee to oversee pledges made for an arms embargo and cease-fire in Libya.

Last month, Germany hosted a summit in Berlin seeking international unity to support efforts for a political solution and cease-fire in Libya.

The Berlin Conference ended with pledges on cease-fire and arms embargo, and heads of states and governments agreed to set up a follow-up committee to discuss the implementation of the conference conclusions.

Since the ouster of late ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, two seats of power have emerged in Libya: warlord Khalifa Haftar in eastern Libya, supported mainly by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, and the Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli, which enjoys the UN and international recognition.

Libya's legitimate government had been under attack by Haftar since last April, claiming the lives of more than 1,000 people.

Çavuşoğlu said he also met with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on the margins of Munich Security Conference and expressed condolences over the loss of lives due to the coronavirus outbreak.

He said Turkey is ready to send additional medical supplies to China, if needed.

The death toll in China from the coronavirus outbreak rose to 1,666, the country's National Health Commission said on Sunday.

Authorities said 68,500 confirmed cases of the virus have been reported so far.

The two ministers also discussed the situation of Uighur Muslim community in China, the top Turkish diplomat said.

He said Turkey's priority is that "Uighur Turks live in peace, tranquility and exercise rights as equal citizens of China."

Çavuşoğlu noted that Turkey did not join the anti-China propaganda made by some countries on the issue.

China's Xinjiang region is home to around 10 million Uighurs. The Turkic Muslim group, which makes up around 45% of Xinjiang's population, has long accused China's authorities of cultural, religious and economic discrimination.

Up to a million people, or about 7% of the Muslim population in Xinjiang, have been incarcerated in an expanding network of "political re-education" camps, according to U.S. officials and UN experts.

In a report last September, the Human Rights Watch accused the Chinese government of a "systematic campaign of human rights violations" against Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang.

According to the 117-page report, the Chinese government conducted "mass arbitrary detention, torture and mistreatment" of Uighur Turks in the region.

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