Britain insists that Bashar al-Assad cannot be allowed to stay on as Syrian president, but is "flexible" about the manner and timing of his departure, British Foreign Minister Philip Hammond said on 12 October. Ahead of a regular meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg, diplomats have been working to reach a compromise between countries that want Assad to quit immediately and others that are ready to accept a flexible transition.
"We cannot work with Assad as the long-term solution for the future of Syria. We can be flexible about the manner of his departure, we can be flexible about the timing of his departure, but if we try to work with Assad, we will only drive the opposition into the arms of Isil [Islamic State], the very opposite of the outcome that we want," Hammond said upon his arrival at the meeting.
Ministers will first discuss a twin suicide bombing that killed at least 97 people in the Turkish capital Ankara on 10 October, EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini told reporters.
"It is very clear that European Union and Turkey share now more than ever a common agenda when it comes to security and the stability of the region and peace in the region, which is a word that we don't use anymore but we should put it on the agenda again very strongly," she said.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on 12 October that Islamic State (Isis) is the main focus of investigations into the bombing. Speaking on Turkish broadcaster NTV in a live interview, Davutoglu said the attack was an attempt to influence the outcome of a parliamentary election due on 1 November and that necessary steps would be taken if security failures were found to have contributed to the bombing.