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Syria and S-400 delivery to top Lavrov-Cavusoglu talks agenda

Sergey Lavrov and Mevlut Cavusoglu will meet ahead the foreign ministerial talks of Russia, Iran and Turkey on Syria in Astana on March 16

MOSCOW, March 14. /TASS/. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will meet with his counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu to discuss the situation in Syria, where tensions persist in Afrin and Eastern Ghouta, the delivery of S-400 air defense missile systems to Turkey, as well as prospects for lifting trade and visa restrictions imposed amid a freeze in relations in 2015.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said stabilization in Syria will be among the focal points at the talks. Russia and Turkey, guarantors of the Astana process, are to outline ways for easing tensions and advancing a political settlement. The two foreign ministers will meet ahead the foreign ministerial talks of Russia, Iran and Turkey on Syria in Astana on March 16. These talks will precede a summit meeting, scheduled for the start of April in Turkey.

Another focal point at the talks is "implementation of the signed contract for the supply to Turkey of S-400 Triumf air defense missile systems, as well as other current and promising projects in the sphere of military-technical cooperation," the ministry said. Neither of the sides has specified which exactly military-technical cooperation plans could be discussed.

The contract for the purchase of S-400 by Turkey is much talked about globally as Turkey will become the first NATO member country to get S-400 systems from Russia.

During a Moscow visit by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in March 2017, Russian President Putin said relations of Moscow and Ankara were getting back on track after the incident with the downing of a Russian warplane. However, some restrictions in bilateral trade and visa issuing for the Turkish nationals imposed amid the chill in bilateral relations, are still in place. According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, Lavrov and Cavusoglu "will discuss joint moves to remove the existing barriers in bilateral trade and expanding the list of agricultural products supplied from Russia and Turkey to national markets".

As to the lifting of visa restrictions, Moscow has confirmed its readiness to liberalize the existing mode for certain categories of the Turkish nationals. However, "the Russian side expects more efficient cooperation between the concerned agencies of the two countries in fight against international terrorism and organized crime," the ministry stressed.