Assad turned down proposal to meet Erdogan: Report
Russia is faced with a resistance from Damascus in its efforts to bring the leaders of Syria and Turkey to the negotiation table, Reuters said on Friday, citing three Syrian sources.
After trying to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad by hosting, supporting, and eventually integrating in its cross border campaigns armed opposition groups, and accusing the Syrian leader of state terrorism, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan finally started saying he can meet with Assad, only after he was ground to a halt by a global opposition in his plans to launch a fresh wave of attacks against Kurdish militia in Northern Syria.
Speaking a week after he shook hands with Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who he earlier called "murderer" and "dictator," Erdogan said Turkey could "also get things on track with Syria."
"There can be no resentment in politics," he said on TV at the weekend.
However, three sources with knowledge of Syria's position on possible talks said Assad had rejected a proposal to meet Erdogan with Russia's President Vladimir Putin.
Two of the sources said Damascus believed such a meeting could boost Erdogan ahead of Turkish elections next year, especially if it addressed Ankara's goal of returning some of the 3.6 million Syrian refugees.
"Why hand Erdogan a victory for free? No rapprochement will happen before the elections," one of the two said, adding that Syria had also turned down the idea of a foreign ministers' meeting.
The third source, a diplomat with knowledge of the proposal, said Syria "sees such a meeting as useless if it does not come with anything concrete, and what they have asked for so far is the full withdrawal of Turkish troops."