Erdogan says ready to meet Assad 'when time is right'
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan could be meeting Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad soon.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Thursday he was ready to meet with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad when the time was right, noting that there were modest talks between Ankara and Damascus.
"There are intelligence meetings between the both of us currently," Erdogan added in response to a question posed by Al Mayadeen's correspondent to Prague.
"I may meet Al-Assad when the time is right... I am not politically accustomed to absolutely affirming or negating. Of course, we may meet with the Syrian President," Erdogan said.
In an article written by Abdulkadir Selvi in the pro-Erdogan newspaper, Hurriyet, it was revealed that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has expressed that he had an interest in meeting his Syrian counterpart, had he attended the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Uzbekistan.
Reuters, before the article was published, reported, based on four sources, that the heads of Turkish and Syrian intelligence - Hakan Fidan and Ali Mamlouk - met in Damascus within the past few weeks, and held several meetings, an indication of Russia's efforts to mediate and ameliorate the decade-long tension between the two geographical neighbors.
"Indeed, low-level talks are underway, and we are talking. But our priority is seeing the terrorist groups being exterminated in northern Syria," the Turkish leader said.
There are periodic direct contacts between the Turkish intelligence agencies and their Syrian counterparts for the sake of national interests, Turkish presidency spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin revealed last month.
"Currently, there is no political contact with Syria, but as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, our intelligence agencies have periodic contact with their Syrian counterparts to serve our national interests," Kalin told Haberturk.
"We all know that these people must eventually return. But we want to do this without causing humanitarian tragedy," he said.
Erdogan rejects US support of armed groups
The Turkish President criticized the United States as a state that "provides armed groups in northern Syria with arms and military equipment."
"Russia is highly effective in that region, and so is Iran. The coalition forces are also effective in that region, and when it comes to them, sadly, especially the United States, they are supplying the terrorist organizations in that part of Syria with arms and armored vehicles of all sorts."
"We must take advanced steps with Syria, through which we can spoil many schemes in this region of the Islamic world," he added.