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ISTANBUL, Aug 19 (Reuters) – Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan said he can never rule out dialogue and diplomacy with Syria, a neighbouring country in which it has carried out several incursions in recent years, according to a transcript of his comments to reporters.

Asked about potential talks with Damascus, he was quoted as saying diplomacy between states can never be fully severed, taking what appeared to be a softer tone than his previous comments. There is a “need to take further steps with Syria,” Erdogan also said.

Ankara backs opposition sides in Syria’s war. Damascus accuses Ankara of supporting “terrorist” groups in Syria.

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Erdogan promised earlier this year to conduct another military operation into northern Syria. Since 2016, Turkey helped its Syrian allies seize hundreds of kilometres of land and pushed some 30 km deep into the country, mainly targeting the Kurdish YPG militia, which it deems a terrorist organisation.

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Reporting Ezgi Erkoyun; Writing by Jonathan Spicer; Editing by Ali Kucukgocmen

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