Putin to meet Erdogan as Russia-Turkey ties deepen

Russian President Vladimir Putin is due to meet his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara on Thursday to discuss the setup and monitoring of a combat-free zone in Syria, as well as Turkey's purchase of a Russian missile defense system.

Erdogan said that the two sides had reaffirmed their determination to work closely and show a "joint will" to end the Syria conflict. Russian Federation and Iran are backing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the conflict, while Turkey and the United States are supporting various rebel groups opposed to Assad's rule.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the situation in Syria will be one of the issues during the upcoming talks. But Russia and Turkey, together with Iran, are now working on setting up de-escalation zones in Syria that are credited with having helped reduce the fighting.

"As Turkey and Russian Federation, we have reconfirmed our determination to maintain our joint will and close cooperation to find a political solution for the Syrian conflict", he further said.

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The Kremlin has yet to explicitly condemn the referendum, stressing instead the importance of maintaining Iraq's territorial integrity. The two leaders spoke about bilateral trade and regional issues including Syria and Iraq.

Relations between Moscow and Ankara soured after a Turkish fighter jet shot down a Russian warplane on the Syrian border in late 2015.

Turkey, which is battling a more than three-decades-old Kurdish insurgency, strongly opposed the plebiscite, in which Iraqi Kurds voted overwhelmingly for independence.

The S-400 surface-to-air missiles deal that Moscow and Ankara signed this month is seen as a snub to Turkey's Western NATO allies.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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