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MOSCOW, December 1. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin will on Monday pay a state visit to Turkey. During the visit, the Russian leader is expected to hold talks with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara to discuss in particular the issue of Syria and Russian-Turkish military and technical cooperation.
Putin and Erdogan will hold the fifth meeting of the top level Cooperation Council. Meetings are held annually in turn in Russia and Turkey. “This is a governing body developing both the strategy and key directions of development of relations between the two countries, coordinating implementation of the key projects of political, trade-economic and humanitarian cooperation,” Russian presidential aide Yury Ushakov said.
He said “on a proposal from the Turkish side, Putin’s participation in the meeting will be held in the form of a state visit.” In line with diplomatic protocol, the status of a state visit is the highest in the ranking of the president’s foreign visits and is not used more often than one or two times a year. Putin paid his previous state visit to Armenia on December 2, 2013.
Such visits stipulate that besides business talks, a number of additional protocol events and meetings take place. This time, Putin, upon his arrival in Ankara, will lay a wreath to the Ataturk Museum, take part in the official meeting ceremony in the new presidential palace and after the talks the Turkish leader will give a formal lunch in honor of his Russian counterpart.
During a one-on-one conversation, Putin and Erdogan are expected to focus on international issues. Ushakov said in 2015 “cooperation between Russia and Turkey will be held with account for an important aspect - the G20 presidency passing from Australia to Turkey.”
However, according to the Kremlin representative, the leaders will pay the key attention to Syria. “Special heed at the talks is expected to be paid to discussion of urgent international problems, including the situation in the Middle East region, including Syria and Iraq,” Ushakov said. “I think there will be a substantial exchange of opinions, including with account for the recent trip to Sochi by the Syrian foreign minister.”
In an interview with Turkish news agency Anadolu shortly before his visit to Turkey, Putin said the situation in Syria currently remains tense and the key threat of aggravation of the situation in that country and neighboring states is the activity of the Islamic State and other groups.
According to UN statistics, fighting between Syrian government troops and militants has killed more than 100,000 people and displaced millions since its start in 2011.
An international peace conference on Syria, dubbed Geneva-2, organized by Russia and the United States and designed to negotiate a solution to the Syrian crisis, kicked off on January 22 in Montreux, Switzerland. Its first two rounds in January and February 2014 brought no particular progress. The parties to the Syrian conflict agreed to continue their discussions.
Another topic on the agenda of talks between Putin and Erdogan will be military-technical cooperation. Ushakov did not forecast what the leaders will discuss and how. A few months ago, Turkey summed up the results of a tender for deliveries of air defense systems, and preference was given to Chinese weapons rather than Russian S-300 systems.
He said the year 2016 will be announced in Russia and Turkey the cross-year of tourism after the top level meeting in Ankara. In 2013, 4.1 million Russians visited Turkey, and in 2014 the number of tourists grew by over 14% Last year, the flow of Turkish tourists to Russia grew by some 25% to 385,000 people.