Meeting between Putin and Erdogan ends
The creation of de-escalation zones in Syria has paved the way for ending the civil war in this country, Russian President Vladimir Putin said after talks with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday evening. "Necessary conditions have de-facto been created for ending the fratricidal war, for total elimination of terrorists and the return of Syrians to peaceful life, to their homes," TASS quoted Putin as saying.
He said that during the meeting with Erdogan, both sides confirmed their readiness to keep working on the de-escalation zones. "The determination was confirmed to follow the final agreements on establishing four de-escalation zones, the largest of them in the Idlib province, reached during the sixth international meeting on Syria in Astana in mid-September," the Russian leader said, adding that the de-escalation initiative was first voiced during his meeting with Erdogan in Sochi in May.
"We have to admit that the work to put this idea into practice was very difficult both for the conflict parties and for states guarantors of the Astana [reconciliation] process - Russia, Turkey, Iran," Putin said.
"Despite all difficulties, we still managed to achieve a positive result," he went on. "I view those agreements as our common and particularly important achievement, an achievement in which our friend Mr. Erdogan has played an important role, because he was one of those who initiated this process."
According to Putin, the agreements on de-escalation zones played an important role "not only for the Syrian people, not only for the region, but for the entire world as well." "We create conditions for the return of refugees to their homes, which is of utmost importance for stepping up the process of searching for a long-term political settlement in Geneva under the aegis of the UN," he said.
Putin also stressed that both countries will continue work towards removing barriers to mutual trade, and that the lifting of most restrictions in supplies of Turkish agricultural products to the Russian market has already increased their imports by 60%.
"We will continue taking joint moves on a reciprocal basis to remove barriers on the way to the development of trade-investment cooperation," Putin said. He said that due to the activity of concerned agencies of the two countries "practically all existing restrictions on supplies to Russia of Turkish agricultural products" have been lifted. "As a result, their imports from Turkey in the first half of this year grew 58.7%," Putin said.
He thanked President Erdogan and other participants in the Thursday talks for "a businesslike and very constructive conversation". "I believe that today’s meeting was very useful and rather productive," he added.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on the sidelines of the talks earlier on Thursday that work to restart supplies of Turkish tomatoes was underway. He said representatives of the two countries’ agricultural ministries and supervisory agencies stayed in constant touch and the decision was close.
Putin also said that Moscow expects the Unit One of Turkey’s Akkuyu nuclear power plant (NPP) to be launched within a shorter timeframe.
"We expect to build and launch the Unit One of the [Akkuyu] nuclear power plant within a shorter timeframe," he said. "Naturally, this would require a coordinated effort from us and our Turkish partners, including timely issuance of all the necessary permissions, documents and licenses," Putin added.
According to the Russian leader, joint Russian-Turkish energy projects - the Akkuyu NPP and the Turkish Stream gas pipeline - were discussed in detail during his talks with Erdogan.