Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday urged his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to extend the authorization for cross-border deliveries of humanitarian aid into Syria.
His appeal came as diplomats scrambled to find a solution that could overcome a Russian veto to a system that has kept aid flowing into the war-ravaged country since 2014.
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“Erdogan emphasized that he attaches importance to the extension of the cross-border mechanism in Syria,” his office said in a statement issued after telephone talks following the expiry Sunday of the mechanism.
The Turkish-Syria border at the Bab al-Hawa crossing is the only way UN assistance can reach civilians without navigating areas controlled by Syrian government forces.
Russia, an ally of the Syrian regime, used its veto power on the UN Security Council to strike down Western proposals to keep the border crossing open for another year.
The standoff came with diplomatic tensions at historic highs since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Security Council has previously extended the cross-border mechanism after it had expired and several sources said a vote was still possible this week.
Erdogan has tried to leverage his good working relations with both Putin and Western-backed leaders in Kyiv to calm tensions.
His office said Erdogan also urged Putin to “take action” on a UN proposal for resuming stalled Ukrainian grain exports across the Black Sea.
The UN has submitted a plan to facilitate exports that would see safe corridors set up around known mines.
The proposal has gained only limited support in both Moscow and Kyiv.
Kyiv has accused Russia of stealing its grain and contributing to a global food shortage caused by grain exports blocked in Ukrainian ports.
But Russia claims to have “nationalized” Ukrainian state assets and to be buying crops from local farmers.
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