Wednesday 28 September 2016

Turkish leader arrives in Russia for talks with Putin aimed at repairing shattered ties

Published 09/08/2016 | 13:27

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) speaks to Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan during their meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia. Photo: Reuters
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) speaks to Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan during their meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia. Photo: Reuters

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has arrived in Russia for talks with Vladimir Putin aimed at repairing ties shattered by the downing of a Russian warplane along the Syrian border last year.

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With Tuesday's visit, Mr Erdogan may also be hoping to play the Russian card to strengthen his hand in disputes with the United States and European Union.

For his part, Mr Putin is interested in mending the rift with Turkey in the hopes of reviving key economic projects, including a much-touted pipeline to carry natural gas to Turkey, and expanding Russia's clout in Syria.

The shooting down of the Russian jet in November, which the Russian president described as a "treacherous stab in the back", came amid boiling tensions over Syria, where Moscow and Ankara back opposing sides in the war.

Opening the talks, Mr Putin said he was "glad" to be seeing Mr Erdogan again and praised his visit as Turkey's commitment to repair the soured ties.

"Your visit means that all of us want the dialogue to be resumed," Mr Putin said.

Both leaders looked composed and not overly emotional when they met and shook hands for a picture.

Mr Erdogan, in his opening remarks, thanked Mr Putin twice for inviting him to Russia and said the cooperation between the two countries should benefit the entire region.

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