Moscow, March 12: Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to improve bilateral ties between both countries and also pledged to work together to help bring an end to the conflict in Syria.
Notably, both the leaders held talks on Friday to address the conflicts in Syria and Iraq, economic and energy ties, and efforts to combat terrorism. During this meet, both the leaders also vowed to bring peace in Syria as soon as possible by working together.
Vladimir Putin said a truce in Syria is being observed on the whole while welcoming his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Moscow. However, Russia and Turkey, which back opposing sides in Syria's war, co-brokered a ceasefire in December that helped reduce the scale of fighting between Syrian President Bashar Assad and the opposition.
Both the leaders also supported two rounds of talks this year between the government and the rebels, while a third set is scheduled for next week. For his part, Erdogan said that there is no doubt about the very successful Syria talks sponsored by the two countries, adding that Turkey was cooperating with Russia's military.
The talks in Moscow also focused on how to help assuage mutual mistrust between Turkish-backed Syrian opposition forces, US-backed Kurdish forces, and Russian-allied Syrian government forces - all fighting their way towards ISIL's de-facto capital, Raqqa.
Erdogan also praised the two countries' friendship, saying it is strong enough to overcome their differences, even as he urged Russia to lift all sanctions it imposed on Ankara following the downing of a Russian plane in 2015.
Importantly, Erdogan's trip to Moscow is seen as a chance for him to bolster ties with the Kremlin at a time when Turkey's relationship with the West has been fraying. It also comes amid tension with Turkey's NATO allies and the European Union. Earlier, Erdogan was sharply criticized by authorities in Germany after making comments accusing Berlin of "Nazi" practices when several German cities canceled rallies planned by Turkish government ministers.
Interestingly, Turkey and Russia support opposing sides in the Syrian war, and their ties were severely strained when Turkish jets shot down a Russian warplane near the Syrian border in November 2015. That incident occurred weeks after Russia launched a campaign of air strikes in Syria targeting opponents of President Bashar al-Assad's government.
Meanwhile, Russian and Turkish media have reported that the talks would include a meeting of the high-level bilateral cooperation council that will include negotiations on the possible purchase by Turkey of Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile systems.