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Turkish, Syrian foreign ministers to meet in Moscow

Turkish, Syrian foreign ministers to meet in Moscow
2 min read
Reconciling with Syria is seen by many as a political necessity in Turkey, where repatriation of refugees is high up the agenda ahead of next week's elections.
Erdogan and his ministers are now courting a presidential summit with Bashar al-Assad [Getty images]

The foreign ministers of Turkey and Syria will hold their first official meeting on Wednesday since the start of Syrian civil war more than a decade ago, officials said.

The talks in Moscow will also involve the top diplomats of Russia and Iran, Turkey's foreign ministry said in a statement.

The announcement delivers a diplomatic boost to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan just days before he faces the toughest general election of his 21-year rule on Sunday.

Erdogan supported early rebel efforts to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, keeping a military presence in northern stretches of the war-torn country that angers Damascus.

But Erdogan reversed course after Turkey plunged into an economic crisis two years ago.

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The Turkish leader has made up with former rivals across the region and is now courting a presidential summit with Assad.

Syria had refused, insisting that Turkey first pull out its troops.

A reconciliation with Syria is also supported by Erdogan's opponents and plays an important part in Turkey's election campaign.

Erdogan has pledged to speed up the repatriation of nearly four million Syrian refugees and migrants who fled to Turkey to escape poverty and war.

An agreement with Damascus is seen as a prerequisite for this process.

The sides will "exchange views on the normalisation of relations between Turkey and Syria, discuss humanitarian issues... and the voluntary, safe and dignified return of asylum seekers," the Turkish foreign ministry said.