Erdogan says he may meet Syria’s Assad to discuss peace, stability

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has expressed the possibility of meeting with his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad in forthcoming talks with Russia to discuss peace and stability in the region and in the Arab country.

Erdogan said on Thursday that a trilateral meeting of the foreign ministers from Turkey, Russia, and Syria would first be held to further develop contacts after last week’s landmark talks between the defense ministers of the three countries in Moscow.

“We will bring our foreign ministers together and then, depending on developments, we may come together as the Russian, Turkish, and Syrian leaders. So, our aim is to establish peace and stability in the region,” Erdogan said at a meeting of his Justice and Development (AK) Party in the capital Ankara, without specifying an exact date for the possible meeting.

“Turkish, Russian, and Syrian defense ministers and intelligence chiefs came together in Moscow. Hopefully, the foreign ministers will come together in a trilateral format,” he added.

On December 28, the Turkish, Russian, and Syrian defense ministers gathered in Moscow to discuss counter-terrorism efforts in Syria, and they agreed to continue tripartite meetings to ensure stability in Syria and on the broader region.

The meeting revolved around the Syria crisis, the refugee issue, and joint counter-terrorism efforts against terror outfits in the Arab country.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said a second meeting could take place in mid-January.

Turkey severed its relations with Syria in March 2012, a year after the Arab country found itself in the grip of rampant and hugely deadly violence waged by foreign-backed militants and terrorists, including those allegedly supported by Ankara.

For the past 11 years, Turkey has backed armed terrorists that unsuccessfully sought to topple the democratically-elected government of Assad, with Erdogan even calling him a “murderer.”

Since 2016, Turkey has also conducted three major ground operations against United States-backed militants based in northern Syria.

The Turkish government accuses the militants, who are known as the People’s Protection Units (YPG), of bearing ties with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party terrorist group.

Turkey has been launching airstrikes on northern Syria and Iraq since November 20, against, what it calls, hideouts belonging to the PKK.

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