MOSCOW, November 13. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold talks on Monday with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan who will pay a working visit to Sochi at the invitation of the Russian side.
According to the Kremlin press service, an agreement on the issue was reached during the telephone conversation between the two presidents on October 28. The upcoming meeting will be the fifth one for Putin and Erdogan this year.
"It is planned to exchange views on regional and international issues, including the joint war on terror and the situation in the Syrian settlement," the Russian president’s press service reported. Among the issues on the agenda are bilateral issues, in particular, the prospects for strengthening trade and economic ties and cooperation in the energy sector.
Russian Presidential Aide Yuri Ushakov earlier told reporters that "the two presidents will discuss the entire range of bilateral cooperation, which is currently gaining momentum having reached the pre-crisis level." According to Ushakov, the second part of the agenda is the Syrian settlement. He noted that the bulk of the time at the meeting will be dedicated to this issue.
According to Turkish Presidential Spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, in addition to bilateral ties, Erdogan plans to discuss during his meeting with Putin the situation in Syria where Russia cooperates with Turkey and Iran to maintain the ceasefire in the four de-escalation zones: in the southwest of the country, in Eastern Ghouta (a Damascus suburb) and in the area around the city of Homs. The fourth zone includes the Idlib province and parts of the neighboring Aleppo, Latakia and Hama provinces.
The upcoming discussion of the situation in Syria will proceed in the context of the joint statement on the issue made by the two presidents on Saturday.
According to Turkey’s Hurriyet edition, Turkey began cooperating with Russia on resolving the crisis in Syria after Ankara failed to persuade Washington of the need to abandon the support for the Syrian Kurds. In late May, the Pentagon announced it would supply weapons to the Kurdish Self-Defense Forces to fight the Islamic State (IS, terror group, outlawed in Russia). According to the Anadolu news agency, since then the United States has sent to the Kurdish units over 1,4000 trucks with various weapons and at least 30 units of military equipment. Turkish officials have repeatedly conveyed their concerns over arms supplies to the Kurds to Washington. On July 17, the Turkish National Security Council said in a statement that the US weapons intended for the Kurdish units and the Kurdish Democratic Union Party had been seized from Kurdistan Workers’ Party militants. Ankara believes that Washington’s cooperation with the Syrian Kurds in the fight against the IS is just a pretext, while weapons that have ended up in the Kurds’ hands could be later used against Turkey.
The Turkish president said after his visit to Azerbaijan on November 2 that Ankara hopes to cooperate with Moscow not only in Idlib but also in Syria’s Afrin Canton. According to Erdogan, "Afrin is a very important region for Turkey, because a threat of the country’s national security constantly emanates from there." However, the Turkish leader provided no details as to what kind of cooperation he expects.
Erdogan will also discuss with Putin joint efforts to bring the trade turnover between Turkey and Russia to $100 bln. The issue was raised at the talks between the two leaders during the Russian president’s visit to Ankara on September 29. Erdogan stressed after the meeting that "in our bilateral relations Turkey attaches special importance to the energy sector, especially the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant and the Turkish Stream projects. He noted that Ankara is ready to accelerate their implementation.
Other important issues, which, according to Ibrahim Kalin, could be raised by Erdogan during his talks with Putin are the complete removal of the remaining trade restrictions, the restoration of the visa-free travel between the two countries and the implementation of the agreement on supplying the S-400 air defense missile systems to Turkey.
On Saturday, Turkish Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli officially announced that the issue with purchasing Russia’s S-400 systems had been resolved. It is not ruled out that the Turkish leader could again discuss with Putin the supply of S-500 missile systems. The two presidents discussed the issue during their meeting in Ankara in late September.