Syria providing ground for closer Turkey-Russia relations - InfoNews

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Syria providing ground for closer Turkey-Russia relations

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, left, during their meeting in the Bocharov Ruchei residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, Monday, Nov. 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin, Pool)
November 13, 2017 - 12:53 PM

MOSCOW - The leaders of Russia and Turkey discussed their next steps in Syria during talks Monday that underlined the close co-ordination between the two countries that have played key roles in the Syrian conflict.

Wrapping the hours of talks held in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russian President Vladimir Putin hailed "very productive" discussions with his Turkish counterpart President Recap Taya Erdogan.,

The meeting was the sixth the two leaders have held this year, a pace that reflects the complexity of the situation in Syria, now in its seventh year.

Russia has backed Syrian President Bashar Assad, while Turkey has supported his foes. Moscow and Ankara found themselves on the verge of a direct conflict in 2015 when a Turkish jet shot down a Russian warplane on the Syrian border.

The two nations managed to mend the rift and, together with Iran, struck a deal earlier this year to create de-escalation zones that helped reduce fighting in Syria.

Putin's discussions with Erdogan followed a weekend statement on Syria approved by Putin and President Donald Trump on the sidelines of an APEC summit in Vietnam. The statement affirmed the use of de-escalation zones and included a commitment to a peaceful solution governed by a Geneva peace process.

Putin said he briefed Erdogan on the U.S.-Russia statement and also told the Turkish leader about his talks with the Iranian leadership during a trip to Tehran earlier this month.

"Our joint work with Turkey and Iran has brought concrete results," Putin said. "Violence has abated, and favourable conditions have been created for advancing an inter-Syrian dialogue under the U.N. auspices."

Erdogan expressed a similar view, saying that de-escalation zones in Syria helped "set the ground for political settlement."

He said relations between Russia and Turkey have reached a "new, strong level."

The two countries' co-operation on Syria helped restore bilateral trade and the flow of Russian tourists to Turkey, which were halted in the wake of the 2015 plane incident.

Putin said Monday that relations between Moscow and Ankara have been "restored practically in full."

Russia, however, has moved slowly to restore imports of Turkish fruit and vegetables, linking Turkey's access to its market with other trade and economic issues.

The two countries have made progress on a new Russian natural gas pipeline to Turkey and a deal for Russia to build Turkey's first nuclear power plant.

Erdogan also emphasized Monday that Turkey is paying special attention to military co-operation with Russia. Turkey has signed a contract to buy Russia's most advanced air defence missile system, the S-400, creating concern among some of Turkey's NATO allies.

News from © The Associated Press, 2017
The Associated Press

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