Turkey: First meeting with Syria important step, others to follow
Turkey's presidential spokesperson says no date scheduled for Erdogan meeting with Al-Assad.
Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin confirmed that the date for a meeting between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad has not yet been set.
In an interview with the Turkish NTV channel today, Kalin said that "It is too early to talk about a specific date, and the meeting will take place according to developments in the progress of the talks between the two sides."
The spokesperson added that Ankara extended its hand to Damascus, and "we hope that they will not let this hand escape from their hands," as he put it.
Read more: Turkey to withdraw from northern Syria if stability achieved: Minister
Regarding the Moscow tripartite meeting last week, Kalin stated that the "first meeting in Moscow was an important step in this direction," noting that, "there will be other meetings at various levels."
The relationship with the Syrian opposition continues
The leader of Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS), formerly al-Nusra Front, Abu Mohammad Al-Joulani, called the Russia-mediated Turkey-Syria talks on Monday "a dangerous deviation from our goals".
Commenting on al-Julani's statement, Kalin confirmed that, "our relations with the Syrian opposition will continue, and there is no such thing as abandoning them."
He continued, "Our communication will be stronger from now on, because one of the important issues in our relationship with the Syrian regime is to guarantee the lives of these people, and for them to become part of the political process.".
Negotiations with Putin and Zelensky
In a related context, Kalin announced that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan "intends to hold telephone talks with his Russian counterpart [President] Vladimir Putin, as well as with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday."
Iranian President's visit to Ankara
Kalin also revealed that "Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi will visit Ankara in the coming weeks," in the first visit of an Iranian president to Turkey in nearly 4 years.
"The Iranian president was planning to visit Turkey last week, but his program did not allow him," Kalin said, stressing that he "may visit Ankara in the coming weeks."
Earlier today, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that the possibility of holding a meeting between the Turkish and Syrian presidents will be decided following talks between the country's foreign ministers.
Cavusoglu announced in the interview that he will hold a meeting with officials from the Syrian opposition on Tuesday.
Cavusoglu commented on previous talks between Damascus and the opposition in Geneva and Astana stating that there was no outcome, adding that his country expects to exchange views with the Syrian opposition prior to political talks with Damascus.
According to Cavusoglu, Ankara expects an exchange of views with the opposition before the start of political negotiations with Damascus.
Cavusoglu revealed on December 31, after a phone call with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov, that Ankara proposed holding a meeting between the foreign ministers of Syria and Turkey in a third country during the second half of next January.
The possible meeting would be the second at the ministerial level, after the "constructive" meeting that brought together the defense ministers of the two countries in Moscow last Wednesday in the first official meeting between Ankara and Damascus in 11 years.