Syrian presidency rejects Turkish press claims of possible meeting with Erdoğan

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has issued a statement rejecting a Turkish newspaper’s claim that he had signalled his readiness to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkish news site Oda Tv reported on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Ahval reported on leftist nationalist daily Aydınlık’s May 12 front-page story, which said Assad had discussed ongoing meetings between Turkish and Syrian officials and the possibility of a meeting with Erdoğan during a private meeting with journalists.

Aydınlık and the report’s author, Syrian-Turkish academic Mehmet Yuva, have been staunch supporters of Assad’s regime since the beginning of the conflict. Yuva was present in 2013 when Aydınlık’s sister television channel, Ulusal TV, held a rare interview with the Syrian president.

However, the newspaper’s report last week appears to have struck a nerve with Assad, whose presidency issued a statement “inviting these press organisations to stay true to the most basic principles of their profession”.

Without directly naming Aydınlık or Yuva, the statement rejected claims that Assad had made statements at a private meeting that have not been declared through official sources.

“If (Assad) were to make these statements, it would be openly and directly through official press organisations or through the presidency’s social media accounts, and not through visitors”, Oda Tv quoted the statement as saying.