May 21, 2018

Australia could play peacekeeping role in a transitional Syrian government—PM Malcolm Turnbull

Malcolm Turnbull on Syria Issue

Malcolm Turnbull has said the prospect Australian peacekeepers could play a future role in a transitional Syrian government to restore order and allow refugees return home.

Speaking in Turkey, the Prime Minister said it would be very important that external peacekeeping forces were drawn from the region to have the greatest acceptance, but he conceded it “could be’’ an option.

“The most effective boots on the ground are going to be Syrian boots on the ground,’’ Mr Turnbull told reporters in Berlin.

“There are some good signs coming out of Vienna, and a settlement, some form of transition to a new government, there may well be a role for peacekeepers, but I’d have to say that I think the most, it would be very important that any external peacekeeping forces were, wherever possible, provided by countries within this region, because they are likely to receive greater acceptance from the people in Syria.”

But asked again if Australia could play a role if G20 leaders make some progress in achieving a political solution in Syria over this weekend, Mr Turnbull said it was an option.

“Well, there could be,’’ he said.

“You know, the outcome that we want is a resolution, a stabilisation in Syria, a transition to a government that has broad support and a restoration of peace so that order can be restored and of course those millions of refugees can go back to the homes that they want to return to.’’

The Prime Minister also confirmed this morning that he had spoken to injured Australian Emma Grace Parkinson, 19, overnight after she underwent surgery after being caught up in the attacks.

“I spoke to her on the phone and did my best to cheer her up. We’re all thinking of her,’’ he said.

“I have to say she’s a brave girl and in all the circumstances in good spirits.’’

Speaking on the ABC’s Insiders program this morning Mr Turnbull also reassured Australia that the nation’s top terrorism experts believed second and third generation Australians were a greater terror risk than refugees.

“They are all, as you know, carefully screened,’’ he said.

“I discussed this just a moment ago with the commissioner of the Federal police and ASIO and the director of ASIO and while there have been some circumstances the history of people of concern in Australia is for the most part second and third generations Australians

“The screening of refugees for the humanitarian intake has been very careful.’’

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