Turkey respects Syria's territorial integrity: Akar
Following a trilateral meeting in Moscow, the Turkish Defense Minister says Ankara only seeks to fight terrorism.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on Thursday that Ankara respects the territorial integrity of Syria and only seeks to fight terrorism.
On Wednesday, Russian Defense Ministry said that defense ministers of Russia, Syria, and Turkey held trilateral talks in Moscow to discuss ways to resolve the Syrian crisis, the issue of refugees, and joint efforts to combat extremist groups in Syria. The talks marked the first official meeting between Ankara and Damascus in 11 years.
"One of the most important issues we raised at the meeting was the fight against terrorism. We stressed that we respect the territorial integrity and sovereign rights of all our neighbors, especially Syria and Iraq, and that our only goal is to fight terrorism, and that we have no other goals," Akar said in a statement.
According to the Turkish minister, the Turkish delegation said during the meeting that "it is making efforts to ensure the security of the country, people and borders."
A few days ago, Akar announced that Turkey is in talks with Russia to use Syria's airspace to conduct a cross-border operation against the US-backed Kurdish YPG militia in northeastern Syria.
On its part, the Syrian Defense Ministry said on Wednesday that the trilateral meeting between the Syrian, Turkish, and Russian defense ministers in Moscow was positive.
It is noteworthy that on November 23, Alexander Lavrentyev, Russia's special presidential envoy for Syria, told reporters that Russia has been receiving indications from Ankara and Damascus about being open to making steps toward one another and about hopes for a Syrian-Turkish rapprochement.
In early October, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said 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 pointed out in response to a question posed by Al Mayadeen's correspondent to Prague.
The Turkish President also hinted at the possibility of reconsidering relations with Damascus after the 2023 elections in Turkey.
But Turkish Justice and Development Party (AKP) member and former MP Orhan Miroğlu announced in early December that Damascus rejected Ankara's request to arrange a meeting between the two Presidents.
"Damascus intends to postpone the meeting between Erdogan and Al-Assad until after the Turkish elections," Miroğlu told Sputnik.
In mid-October, Turkish Presidential Spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin said Russia has offered to mediate a meeting between Erdogan and Al-Assad, but the Turkish leader "is not very warm" to this idea yet.
In an article written by Abdulkadir Selvi in the pro-Erdogan newspaper, Hurriyet, it was revealed that the Turkish President expressed that he had an interest in meeting with his Syrian counterpart had he attended the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Uzbekistan.
In the same context, Reuters cited four sources as saying that the heads of the Turkish and Syrian intelligence - Hakan Fidan and Ali Mamlouk - met in Damascus and held several meetings.
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