The telephone conversation could take place very soon, a state news outlet reports
The leaders of Turkey and Syria – Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Bashar Assad – could hold telephone talks after it was suggested by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish state media reported on Tuesday citing sources within the Ankara government.
The news comes after Erdogan’s visit to the southern Russian city of Sochi last week, where he discussed the issue of Syria with President Putin. The Turkiye newspaper reports that after the meeting, Putin recommended that Ankara work as much as possible with the Assad government to combat terrorism as such an approach would be “much more accurate.”
The Russian leader also reportedly suggested to Erdogan that Turkey and Syria should hold a meeting, but, as reported by Turkiye, Ankara said it was “too early” for something like that. However, it was stated that a telephone conversation between Erdogan and Assad was likely to take place.
Erdogan and Putin reaffirmed their commitment to the political process in Syria and agreed it was important to maintain the “political unity and territorial integrity” of the Middle Eastern nation, and vowed to act “together in full coordination” to fight any terrorist organizations.
Relations between Turkey and Syria have been strained over the past decade with Ankara accusing the Assad government of failing to control Kurdish militants in the country’s northeast on the border with Turkey.
Turkey has since launched several military operations into Syria to fight the US-backed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) which Ankara considers a terrorist organization. In June, Turkey announced plans for a new offensive in Syria’s Kurdish-controlled regions, saying it would create a 30-kilometer ‘safe zone’ along the Syria-Turkey border.
Damascus condemned those plans and insisted it would not tolerate Turkish “aggression” and any unilateral military action on its soil.
However, Turkey has recently started making attempts to reach out to the Syrian government to conduct joint operations against the PKK. Late last month, Turkey’s top diplomat, Mevlut Cavusoglu, said his country is prepared to work alongside Damascus against Kurdish militants and was willing to give “all kinds of political support for the work of the Syrian regime in this regard.”
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