A report in Turkey’s Hurriyet newspaper said on Friday that Erdogan wanted to meet his Syrian counterpart if he had participated in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.
But, he noted Assad was not attending the summit.
Hurriyet reported Erdogan made the comments about Assad at a meeting of his ruling AK Party, held behind closed doors on Monday.
“I wish Assad had come to Uzbekistan, I would have spoken to him. But he can’t come there,” Erdogan was quoted by Hurriyet as saying at the party meeting.
“He went to war with rebels to maintain his own power. He chose to protect his own power. He thought to protect the areas he controlled. But he couldn’t protect large areas,” Erdogan was reported as saying.
The report came after four sources told Reuters Turkey’s intelligence chief held multiple meetings with his Syrian counterpart in Damascus in recent weeks.