Visiting Moscow for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Assad said that there was no point in a meeting with Erdogan until Turkey’s “illegal occupation” ended.
“This is linked to arriving at a stage Turkey would clearly be ready and without any ambiguity to exit completely from Syrian territory and end its support of terrorism and restore the situation that prevailed before the start of the war on Syria,” Assad told Sputnik in an interview.
“This is the only situation when it would then be possible to have a meeting between me and Erdogan. Aside from that what’s the value of such a meeting and why would we do it if it would not achieve final results for the war in Syria,” he added in the clearest remarks on the recent rapprochement, Reuters reported.
In a sign of potential rapprochement between Ankara and Damascus, Syrian and Turkish defence ministers held landmark talks in Moscow in December, alongside their Russian counterpart.
In January, Cavusoglu said he could meet his Syrian counterpart in February to discuss normalisation between the two neighbours.
Turkish and Russian officials say preparations are being made for a meeting between deputy foreign ministers of Turkey, Syria and Iran ahead of planned talks between foreign ministers.
Assad acknowledged the role played by Russia in encouraging a rapprochement between Erdogan and himself.
“We trust the Russian side who has played a mediator role to facilitate the communications, but within the basis of the Russian policy of respecting the sovereignty of states.. and the exit of illegal foreign forces from Syrian territory,” Assad said.
Assad has said the presence of Russian troops in Syria was legitimate as his government has requested Moscow’s support.