Russia offers platform for Turkey-Syria meeting
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said that Russia supported the idea of a meeting between the foreign ministers of Turkey and Syria and that they can provide a platform for this meeting if necessary, Sputnik Turkey reported.
When asked about the possibility of a meeting between Turkish and Russian foreign ministers, Bogdanov said: “Of course, we think such a meeting would be beneficial. We're talking about restoring contacts here. For now, these contacts continue through the defense ministries and intelligence services. We encourage the parties to come together and find common ground in certain positions.”
Confirming reports which said Russia promoted talks between the two neighboring countries, Bogdanov said they "held many meetings at different levels and format until now" and they were ready to take it to a ministerial level.
Ankara supported the rebels in Syria in a bid to topple the Assad administration since the beginning of the civil war in 2011, but turned to a softer tone in the recent months after Damascus steeled its position with the backing of Russia.
On August 11, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu revealed that he recently had a brief chat with his Syrian counterpart, saying Turkey must reconcile the Syrian administration with the opposition.
President Tayyip Erdogan also said he can never rule out talks with the Syrian regime and said they “need to secure advanced steps with Syria.”
Diplomatic sources said Turkey’s intelligence chief Hakan Fidan visited Damascus several times in the last month and the talks reached a level for the two countries' foreign ministers to meet.
Reports said earlier that Russia wanted to deploy its troops stationed in Syria to Ukraine, as well as Syrian mercenaries that have been fighting alongside Russia.
"Russia wants Syria and Turkey to overcome their problems and achieve certain agreements...which are in the interest of everyone, both Turkey and Syria," Reuters cited a Turkish official as saying.
The Turkish security official said Russia has already withdrawn some military resources from Syria and asked Turkey to normalize relations with Assad to "accelerate a political solution."