ANKARA, Sept 21 Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip
Erdogan has cancelled a trip to the United States where he was
due to attend a U.N. General Assembly meeting next week, an
official from his office said, citing a forthcoming party
congress and heavy work schedule.
The rebellion against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is
likely to be focus of plenary and bilateral meetings in New
York. Erdogan has been one of Assad's harshest critics, allowing
the Syrian opposition to organise on Turkish soil, and pushing
for a foreign-protected safe zone inside Syria.
But with soldiers engaged in some of the heaviest fighting
in more than a decade with Kurdish militants in Turkey's own
mountainous southeast, public sentiment is swinging against
deeper Turkish involvement in Syria.
Erdogan had been due to travel to New York between Sept. 22
and 25 and to give a speech at the U.N. assembly.
Washington sees Turkey as the key player both in supporting
Syria's opposition and in planning for what U.S. officials say
is the inevitable collapse of the Assad government.
"Prime Minister Erdogan cancelled his U.S. trip because of
the party congress on September 30th, as well as his busy
schedule," a source in his office said.
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu will now lead the Turkish
delegation at the New York meeting.
Turkey's President Abdullah Gul had earlier been scheduled
to attend the U.N. assembly but cancelled due to an ear