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Damascus expects Ankara’s concrete steps to improve relations — ministry

July 14, 2016, 4:08 UTC+3 BEIRUT

An oficial of the Syrian Foreign Ministry noted that "full closure of the border should become the first step on this path"

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BEIRUT, July 14. /TASS/. Syria’s authorities believe that Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim’s remarks were not enough to manifest Ankara’s willingness to normalize relations with Damascus in order to battle terrorism, an official of the Syrian Foreign Ministry said in an interview with al-Watan daily on Thursday.

"We expect real steps from Ankara which must stop its help to terrorists’ gangs and cut short their infiltration into Syria," he said, noting that "full closure of the border should become the first step on this path."

Yildirim’s words were compared in local media with a beacon signaling a possible change in the policy to Syrian President Bashar Assad, which Turkey was pursuing for five years of the conflict.

On Wednesday, Turkey’s HaberTurk television channel reported that Yildirim said Ankara "was making efforts to establish good relations with Syria and Iraq."

"I am sure our relations with Syria will normalize again. Our main goal is to promote cooperation with Syria, Iraq and all neighboring states," he said.

Meanwhile, Khaled Khodja, head of the Syrian National Coalition of Revolution and Opposition Forces, called the Turkish prime minister’s statement "absolutely unacceptable."

"A change in Turkey’s policy will weaken the Syrian armed opposition," he said.

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