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Putin, Erdogan to discuss major economic projects, Syrian settlement

Erdogan will visit Russia at the invitation of the Russian leader
Turkish President Recep Tayyo Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin EPA/ALEXEI DRUZHININ/SPUTNIK/KREMLIN POOL
Turkish President Recep Tayyo Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin

MOSCOW, March 10. /TASS/. Presidents of Russia and Turkey Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan are due to discuss in Moscow on Friday joint projects in energy and war on terror, the Kremlin press service said.

Erdogan will visit Russia at the invitation of the Russian leader. The Turkish president will participate in the sixth meeting of the High-Level Russian-Turkish Cooperation Council. A number of bilateral documents are expected to be signed at the end of the meeting.

"The leaders will discuss a whole range of issues of the Russian-Turkish relations with the focus on further restoration of mutually beneficial trade and economic ties," the Kremlin said. "The agenda particularly includes the implementation of joint projects on constructing Turkey’s first nuclear power plant Akkuyu and building the Turkish Stream gas pipeline."

"An exchange of views is also expected on topical aspects of regional issues, first of all the prospects of further cooperation of Russia and Turkey in the fight against international terrorism and settling the Syrian crisis," the statement said.

Bilateral mega-projects and coordination of steps in Syria

Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov earlier said that the governments of the two countries will participate in the meeting almost in full, and that "determines the agenda."

Peskov also noted that trade and economic cooperation and implementation of "mega-projects that are on the agenda of bilateral relations - gas pipeline Turkish Stream, construction of Akkuyu nuclear power plant" are also among the topics of the meeting. "This is a process of further normalization of our relations after certain crisis moments," Peskov said.

"The topics related to security, to Syria, to the investigation of the murder of our ambassador Andrey Karlov in Ankara will be of great importance," he stressed. He clarified that in regard to the Syrian issue, the parties will talk about "political settlement, interaction in the course of implementing military tasks." "The Turkish military is present in Syria and carries out military operations there, and the Russian military continues activities to support the Syrian armed forces - this requires very close interaction and coordination," the Kremlin spokesman said.

According to him, the presidents will also discuss interaction of civil societies and humanitarian contacts.

Russian, Turkish prime ministers discuss bilateral trade

On Thursday, Russian and Turkish Prime Ministers Dmitry Medvedev and Binali Yildirim discussed in a phone conversation measures to boost bilateral trade and to ease access to each other’s markets for manufactured and agricultural goods.

The press service of the Russian cabinet of ministers said Medvedev and Yildirim also discussed "the implementation of large joint projects in the energy sector and cooperation in transport area."

Earlier on Thursday, Turkey’s Minister of Economy Nihat Zeybekci said his country hoped for more active steps on Moscow’s part towards lifting restrictions on the imports of Turkish agricultural goods. Zeybekci said Turkey exports $ 1.7 billion worth of agricultural goods to Russia. It is the second largest importer of Russian grain and number one importer of Russian sunflower seed oil.

Zeybekci recalled that Putin and Erdogan had agreed to consider switching to national currencies in mutual settlements. "The issue has been discussed at the level of economy ministers and heads of central banks," he said. "I think the efforts to sign a swap agreement have entered the final stage now." "I hope the results of the visit (President Erdogan’s visit to Moscow on March 9-10) will enable us to finalize this work," Zeybekci said.

Relations between the two countries sharply deteriorated after a Turkish Air Force F-16 fighter jet downed a Russian Su-24M bomber in the sky over Syria on November 24, 2015. Pilot Oleg Peshkov was killed by militants from the ground after ejecting. Ankara claimed the bomber violated the Turkish airspace near the Syrian border. The Russian Defense Ministry said the warplane was flying over Syrian territory and had never violated Turkey’s airspace.

On November 28, Putin signed a decree imposing special economic measures against Turkey. On January 1, 2016, the bulk of sanctions against Turkey came into effect. Russia imposed a ban on imports of fruits, vegetables, poultry, flowers and white salt from that country. Besides, some business activities and services of Turkish companies, employment of new staff from Turkey were either banned or restricted. At the same time, Russia introduced visa restrictions and banned sales of package holidays to Turkey.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan apologized in late June 2016 for the incident and relations between the two countries started normalizing.

In October, Russia partly lifted the embargo and allowed imports of some fruits (apricots, peaches and various citrus fruits), and now the sides are discussing the removal of restrictions for the rest of goods.