Turkey has no preconditions for dialogue with Syria – foreign minister

Turkey has no preconditions for dialogue with Syria but any talks should focus on security on their border, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Tuesday, in a further softening of Ankara’s stance towards Damascus after a decade of hostility.

Turkey has backed rebels fighting to topple Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, and cut diplomatic relations with Damascus early in the 11-year conflict.

But the two countries’ intelligence chiefs have maintained contact and recent comments from President Tayyip Erdogan’s government suggest a move towards political engagement, alarming Assad’s opponents in the remaining pocket of rebel-held Syria. read more

After visiting Russia, which has strongly backed Assad, Erdogan said President Vladimir Putin had suggested that Turkey cooperate with the Syrian government along their joint border, where Erdogan is planning a further military incursion against Syrian Kurdish fighters he says pose a security threat.

Turkey, which has carried out four military operations in northern Syria since 2016, says it is creating a safe zone where some of the 3.6 million Syrian refugees it is currently hosting could return.


Asked about the prospect for any talks, Cavusoglu said they would need to have specific goals.

“There cannot be a condition for dialogue, but what is the aim of these contacts? The country needs to be cleared of terrorists… People need to be able to return,” Cavusoglu told broadcaster Haber Global.