BEIRUT, Lebanon — A Turkish deputy prime minister suggested that the country is considering setting up a safe zone along its southeastern border with Syria, Reuters reported.
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Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters in Ankara, "We are making assessments including the withdrawal of our ambassador," and that they were "evaluating alternatives," including the buffer zone and the safe zone. There were no further details of what exactly these areas would entail, the Associated Press wrote.
Ankara is also urging its citizens to leave the country, citing "serious security risks," the BBC wrote. Consular services at the Turkish embassy in Damascus will be stopped on March 22, and the ambassador may be recalled.
Erdogan "voiced hope the April 2 meeting of the so-called Friends of Syria group in Istanbul will help settle the crisis."
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In Moscow, Russia's foreign minister Sergey Lavrov criticized Syria's opposition for trying to undercut the mission of joint United Nations-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan. Lavrov said, "It was a bit strange when two days after his (Annan's) first visit to Damascus representatives of the opposition Syrian National Council declared that his mission had failed," the AP wrote.
Lavrov expressed hope that the West would encourage the Syrian opposition to cooperate with diplomatic efforts: "It's not only us and China who should be sending signals to Damascus so that it fully cooperates with Kofi Annan's mission, but other Security Council members also need to do their part of the work and urge the opposition not to provoke the exacerbation of tensions," he said.