Putin to Visit Turkey Next Week for Jerusalem, Syria Talks

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan met in Moscow
Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan shake hands in Moscow on Friday. Photo: AP

Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit Turkey next week for talks with his counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Syria and the United States’ recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the Turkish presidency said in a statement on Friday.

Mr. Putin will visit Ankara on Monday “at the invitation of” Erdogan, the presidency said, adding that the talks would focus on the latest developments on Jerusalem and the situation in Syria.

The Kremlin confirmed the visit, saying the two men planned to “discuss current questions of bilateral cooperation and above all the progress of joint projects in energy.”

This appeared to be a reference to the TurkStream pipeline that is being built under the Black Sea to pump Russian natural gas to Turkey, and also to the Akkuyu nuclear power plant Moscow is building in southern Turkey.

It added that talks are also scheduled “on key international problems, including the situation in the Middle East and finding a solution in Syria.”

The latest encounter between the two leaders comes at a time of intense diplomacy between Turkey and Russia, especially over Syria.

It will be their eighth face-to-face meeting this year.

Russia, along with Iran, is the key backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and Moscow’s military intervention inside Syria is widely seen as having tipped the balance in the conflict.

Turkey, however, has backed the rebels seeking Mr. Assad’s ouster in a conflict that has left more than 330,000 dead.

But Russia and Turkey have been working together since a 2016 reconciliation deal ended a crisis caused by the shooting down of a Russian warplane over Syria.

In recent months, Turkey has markedly toned down its criticism of the Assad regime and focused on opposing a Syrian Kurdish militia seen by Ankara as a terror group.

Their last meeting was on November 22 in the Russian resort of Sochi, when they were joined by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani for a three-way summit on Syria.

Both Turkey and Russia have expressed alarm at the U.S. move to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Mr. Putin said he was “deeply concerned” while Mr. Erdogan has taken a strong line against the move and called an emergency summit meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation for December 13 in Istanbul.