Putin in Turkey for talks on weapons, Syria

Swazi Observer - - NEWS -

ISTANBUL - Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin yes­ter­day met his Turk­ish coun­ter­part Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan for talks on Syria and a key weapons deal, hop­ing to strengthen an in­creas­ingly ac­tive re­la­tion­ship that has trou­bled the West.

De­spite a re­gional ri­valry that goes back to the Ot­toman Em­pire and the Ro­manov dy­nasty, Rus­sia and Turkey have been work­ing closely since a 2016 rec­on­cil­i­a­tion ended a cri­sis caused by the shoot­ing down of a Rus­sian war plane over Syria.

"Rus­sia and Turkey are co­op­er­at­ing very tightly," Putin's spokesper­son Dmitry Peskov said ahead of the one-day work­ing visit by Putin to Ankara.

Both Moscow and Ankara are push­ing for the cre­ation of four "de-es­ca­la­tion zones" in Syria to end the civil war that has raged since 2011.

Mean­while, Turkey, a NATO mem­ber, has signed a deal re­port­edly worth $2bn to buy S-400 air de­fence sys­tems from Rus­sia, a move that has shocked its al­lies in the al­liance.

But while Putin and Er­do­gan are at pains to project an in­creas­ingly pro­duc­tive re­la­tion­ship, a shadow could be cast by Mon­day's in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum in Iraqi Kur­dis­tan, which en­raged Ankara, but which Moscow stopped short of con­demn­ing.

Turkey and Rus­sia have been on op­pos­ing sides dur­ing the more than six years of war in Syria, with Rus­sia the key backer of Pres­i­dent Bashar As­sad and Turkey sup­port­ing rebels seek­ing his ouster.


IN TALKS: Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin.

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