Turkey to host new summit to tackle Syria conflict

France's President Emmanuel Macron, center, gestures next to Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, left, and Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, during a family photo as part of the NATO summit at the Grove hotel in Watford, northeast of London, on Wednesday. — AFP

ANKARA — Turkey will host a summit on Syria in February with the leaders of France, Germany and Britain amid ongoing tensions over the conflict, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in comments published on Thursday.

It follows their meeting on Tuesday in London on the sidelines of the NATO summit.

Deep differences remain over Turkey's offensive in October against Kurdish militants in northern Syrian, who had been a key ally for the West against Daesh (the so-called IS).

That triggered a bitter verbal exchange between Erdogan and French President Emmanuel Macron ahead of the NATO summit.

But Macron said their four-way meeting had helped "clear up misunderstandings" despite the continuing refusal by Western powers to label Syrian Kurdish militants as terrorists.

"We agreed that we would do this four-way summit at least once a year. The second summit will be in Istanbul in February," Erdogan said, according to state news agency Anadolu.

He criticized the insistence of the three leaders on when Turkey would leave northern Syria.

"We said to them, 'What is your business there? Do you have a border?' No. 'Are you harassed by any fire?' No. 'Are there attacks?' No."

Russian President Vladimir Putin is also due to visit Istanbul on Jan. 8, with Syria and energy issues on the agenda. — AFP