Turkey laid diplomatic ties with the Syrian capital of Damascus on ice on Monday (26 March). Diplomatic relations are not fully cut since the Consulate General in Halep is still open.
Ankara recalled Ambassador to Damascus Ömer Önhon and the diplomatic staff. The closure of the Damascus Embassy came right after a talk of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and US American President Barack Obama about Syria.
Turkish officials had previously advised Turkish citizens in Syria to leave the country. In an announcement released by the Foreign Ministry, Turkish citizens residing in Syria were "strongly advised to return to their home country".
"Impossible not to interfere"
PM Erdoğan and President Obama came together on Sunday (25 March) at the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, South Korea.
According to a statement released after the meeting, Erdoğan and Obama mainly talked about Syria.
Obama said in the press release, "The killing of civilians in Syria is unacceptable. We need to do something to prevent more deaths. We had a consultation here about which action to take... We will continue to co-operate during the transition period to a legitimate government".
Erdoğan said that Turkey had become a centre for Syrian immigrants. He indicated that the number of immigrants coming from Syria to Turkey exceeded 17 thousand. He also stressed the deaths.
"It is impossible to remain as a spectator, to just wait and not to interfere. This is the duty of our conscience. We endeavour to do whatever is necessary within the framework of international law and we will act accordingly".
Agenda: Middle East
Other topics Obama and Erdoğan talked about were concerning Middle East countries like Russia, China and Iran.
Obama said that Iran had to fulfil its responsibility and make progress on the nuclear issue.
After the summit in South Korea, Erdoğan will also push the topic of Syria during his visit to Iran on 28/29 March.
Regarding the Middle East and Turkey, Erdoğan was quoted in the press release as saying, "The developments in Iraq cannot be ignored. We also had the opportunity to talk about the developments there. It is gratifying to see the USA on our side in the fight against terrorist organizations. Our struggle against the terrorist organization will continue but we will also continue negotiations on the political side".
On 1 April, the Friends of Syria Summit will be held in Istanbul.
Obama expressed his view that the diplomatic process with Iran was stalled. "A certain progress on this topic has to be registered and a number of effective negotiations need to be achieved... As a neighbouring country Turkey is absolutely a part of that process. We expect this to end with the support of peaceful measures".
PKK and Cyprus
Also Cyprus was an issue during the meeting between Erdoğan and Obama. The Turkish PM said, "We want to draw the expected future nearer". Obama made their standpoint clear by saying "We are running out of patience for Cyprus".
Obama also commented on the militant Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK): "I can especially say that we are in line regarding the PPK terror and our stance against it". Furthermore, Obama congratulated Erdoğan on "Turkey's efforts" regarding minorities.
The US President invited PM Erdoğan to the NATO summit in Chicago. The summit will deal with the latest situation in Afghanistan. (YY)