Turkey's Prime Minister Binali Yildirim addresses members of parliament from his ruling AK Party (AKP) during a meeting at the Turkish parliament in Ankara, on June 14, 2016. / AFP / ADEM ALTAN
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Turkey's determination to prevent an autonomous Kurdish region from emerging in northern Syria could see it ease up on demands for President Bashar Assad's immediate exit, as it overhauls a foreign policy that has left it more isolated than influential.Under former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Ankara was insistent on Assad's departure as the only way of stabilizing Syria, setting it at odds with Assad's ally Russia and distancing it from a U.S.-led coalition more focused on the fight against Daesh (ISIS).Yildirim's government has outlined four areas of policy where it wants to take new steps: Israel, Russia, the European Union and Syria, the last motivated in part by a realization that Assad's demise could benefit the Kurdish militia.A softer stance on Assad could in theory help smooth relations with Russia, which have been severely strained since Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet near the Syrian border last November.Erdogan sent President Vladimir Putin a message Sunday, to mark Russia's national day, expressing a desire for an improvement in ties, Turkish presidential sources said. Turkey's EU Affairs Minister Omer Celik meanwhile said Tuesday that Turkey had not known the jet was Russian when it was shot down after entering Turkish air space near the Syrian border.
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