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Top diplomat: Russia, Turkey united in understanding need to fight terrorism in Syria

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu have discussed the conflict in Syria and bilateral ties
Russian and Turkish Foreign Ministers Sergey Lavrov and Mevlut Cavusoglu Alexander Shcherbak/TASS
Russian and Turkish Foreign Ministers Sergey Lavrov and Mevlut Cavusoglu
© Alexander Shcherbak/TASS

ALANYA /TURKEY/, December 1./TASS/. Russia and Turkey are united in understanding that it is necessary to fight terrorism and settle the crisis in Turkey politically, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Thursday after meeting with Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu.

"We had a very useful conversation on a very broad range of issues," he said. "Special attention was paid to topical international problems, including the situation in Syria," Lavrov said.

"We were united in understanding a need to as soon as possible curb terrorist threats in this country, stop bloodshed, put the settlement process on a political track and ensure the settlement of humanitarian problems, delivery of aid," he said.

The diplomat said all this must be implemented in accordance with the agreements that were earlier reached within the framework of the International Syria Support Group and on the basis of resolution 2254 of the UN Security Council, which "formulated a comprehensive approach on all aspects of the Syrian crisis in the interests of its stable and safe settlement," he added.

Restoration of bilateral relations

Lavrov said Russia and Turkey are keen to continue restoring bilateral ties. "We have thoroughly discussed bilateral relations," the minister noted. "We have reiterated both countries’ willingness to gradually normalize bilateral ties in accordance with the agreements reached by the presidents of Russia and Turkey."

"We have also assessed the preparations for the next meeting of the high-level Cooperation Council that Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan will preside over," Lavrov noted.

"We highlighted the importance of our continuing efforts to overcome the negative trends in bilateral trade as our trade turnover is still declining," the minister went on to say. "According to the presidents’ decision, we will focus on the energy sector." "We have also touched upon lifting economic restrictions… We has pointed to the progress made in the implementation of the Turkish Stream project which is in both Russia and Turkey’s interests as well as in the interest of the European countries," the Russian top diplomat stressed.

Besides that, in Lavrov’s words, Turkey has confirmed that it will provide an official strategic investment status to the Akkuyu nuclear power plant. "We commended the preparatory work at the Akkuyu construction site carried out by Russian specialists," Lavrov said.

According to him, Russia and Turkey plan to make greater use of the potential of the military and technical sphere as well as of the defense industry.

When speaking about the tourism industry, the Russian foreign minister noted that Moscow had been placing great importance on the safety of the Russian citizens when assessing the possibility of expanding tourism ties with Turley and lifting visa restrictions."

"We have pointed to the growing tourist inflow," Lavrov said. "But Russia believes that the safety recommendations should be fulfilled before we start expanding ties in the tourism industry," the Russian minister added.

Lavrov also said that Russia and Turkey will hold special consultations on security issues with a view to establishing more effective cooperation.

"Cooperation on specific security issues depends on should be more effective," he said. "We have agreed to hold special consultations with this end in view."

Sentiments among Syrian armed opposition groups

 Russia and Turkey have been exchanging information on the sentiments among the Syrian armed opposition groups, Lavrov said, responding to a question by a TASS correspondent.

"We have never avoided contacts with the Syrian opposition groups," the Russian minister noted. "We supported the International Syria Support Group’s initiative that a provision on the importance of dialogue with all key opposition groups be included into the UN Security Council Resolution 2254."

"We both (with Turkish foreign minister) attended the Lausanne meeting a month ago, the meeting’s participants pointed out that apart from political opposition consisting mostly of expats who actually never visit Syria, there is also armed patriotic opposition that cares for the country and has vast territories under its control," Lavrov said. "At the Lausanne meeting we supported the idea of contacting these groups and field commanders."

"We have never avoided contacts with the Syrian opposition groups and field commanders," the Russian top diplomat stressed. "Since our Turkish counterparts have been in contacts with them, it is only natural that we have been exchanging information in order to find out the sentiments among the armed opposition members, we want them to take part in solving the crisis. For obvious reasons, we won’t make the details public but I assure you that this work is being done at a high professional level," Sergey Lavrov concluded.