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Erdoğan says meeting with Assad possible as part of peace efforts

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Thursday that he may meet with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as part of ongoing peace efforts between the two countries, Reuters reported.

This would be the highest-level public meeting between Ankara and Damascus since the Syrian civil war began in 2011.

Prior to this potential meeting, a trilateral meeting of the foreign ministers of Turkey, Russia and Syria will be held to further develop diplomatic relations.

Erdoğan, a key supporter of rebels seeking to topple Assad since 2011, has voiced a willingness to meet with the Syrian leader after the neighbors’ defense ministers met last week in Russia.

Assad, helped by Russian airpower, has largely restored control over Syria after the conflict that has killed half a million people, displaced half the country’s pre-war population and seen the rise of the Islamic State extremist group.

With last year registering the lowest death toll since the conflict erupted, a growing number of countries have been accepting Assad as a victor. He flew in March 2022 to the United Arab Emirates, a US ally, in his first trip to another Arab state since the war.

Hoping to assuage the opposition, Turkey on Tuesday welcomed its leaders and reiterated support for a UN Security Council resolution that calls for a political settlement in Syria.

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