Syria is resisting Russian efforts to broker a summit with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan after more than a decade of bitter hostility since the outbreak of Syria’s civil war, Reuters reported on Friday, citing sources familiar with the matter.
However, two Turkish sources, including a senior official, denied that Damascus was delaying the meeting and said things were on track for a possible meeting between the two leaders.
Erdoğan’s government backs rebel fighters who have tried to topple President Bashar al-Assad and has accused the Syrian leader of state terrorism, saying at the start of the conflict that peace efforts could not continue under his rule.
Assad accuses Turkey of supporting terrorism by backing a number of militants, including Islamist groups, and of repeated military incursions into northern Syria. Ankara is preparing another possible operation after blaming Syrian Kurdish fighters for a bombing in İstanbul.
Russia has helped Assad turn the war in his favor and says it seeks a political end to the conflict and wants to bring the two leaders together for talks.
Erdoğan has signaled readiness for rapprochement.
Speaking a week after he shook hands with Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi last month, after repeatedly saying he could not meet a leader who came to power in a coup, he said Turkey could “also get things on track with Syria.”
“There should be no resentment in politics,” he said in a televised discussion at the weekend.
However, three sources with knowledge of Syria’s position on possible talks told Reuters that Assad had rejected a proposal to meet Erdoğan with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.