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Erdoğan says may meet with Syrian President Assad ‘when the time is right’

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In yet another sign of his government’s desire to reconcile with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said he may meet with Assad when the time is right, Turkish media reported.

Erdoğan’s remarks came during a news conference in Prague on Thursday where he travelled to attend a meeting of the European Political Community.

“As of now such a meeting is not on the agenda. But I can’t say it’s impossible for me to meet with Assad. When the time is right, we could meet with the president of Syria,” he said.

Erdoğan said there are currently low-level talks going on with Syrian officials.

Turkey has strongly opposed Assad throughout the 11-year civil war and backed some rebel groups, while Erdoğan in earlier remarks accused the Syrian regime of carrying out “state terrorism” and labelled Assad as a “terrorist.”

But Turkey began to publicly give signs of reconciliation with the Syrian regime this summer. Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu revealed in August that that he had briefly met with his Syrian counterpart, Faisal al-Meqdad, in Belgrade last October — the first such meeting reported since 2011. Çavuşoğlu also reaffirmed Turkey’s call for the Syrian opposition to reconcile with Assad’s government.

Erdoğan also said in August that Turkey needs to take further steps in the newly announced process of reconciliation with the Syrian government, noting that political dialogue and diplomacy between countries can never be cut.

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