Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. File photo
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DAMASCUS – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could have a role to play in a future political transition in his war-torn country, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan suggested for the first time.
“The transitional process could be with him (Assad),” Erdoğan told reporters in Istanbul on Thursday.
Erdoğan’s statement comes one day after he held talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, marking a shift in the Turkish position towards Assad after constantly insisting on his removal from power.
In the meantime, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a statement following a summit on the refugee crisis fuelled by the Syrian war: “We have to speak with many actors, this includes Assad, but others as well.”
“Not only with the United States of America, Russia, but with important regional partners, Iran, and Sunni countries such as Saudi Arabia,” Merkel said.
Last week, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that the U.S. was prepared to negotiate with Assad on the conditions and timing of his exit.
“We need to get to the negotiation. That is what we’re looking for and we hope Russia and Iran, and any other countries with influence, will help to bring about that, because that’s what is preventing this crisis from ending,” said Kerry.
“We’re prepared to negotiate. Is Assad prepared to negotiate, really negotiate? Is Russia prepared to bring him to the table?”
By: Laila Majdalawi