Putin, Erdogan address media after talking Syria in Sochi - UPDATED
Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan have held a meeting in Sochi, Russia. The situation in Syria, including de-escalation zones and the prospects for a peaceful settlement of the conflict, was on agenda.
According to the Kremlin, the leaders also discussed various bilateral issues, ranging from joint counter-terrorism efforts to economic cooperation in the trade and energy sectors.
“In order to implement the arrangements made during our meeting with president Erdogan in Ankara, the supplies of a number of products from Turkey have been renewed. Today we have discussed joint measures to remove restrictions on other types of agricultural products,” Putin said at the joint press coference following the talks.
Erdogan said that Turkey supported the removal of the remaining restrictions in trade relations with Russia.
"Our contacts have continued to address all existing problems… Last month an intergovernmental commission completed its work in Kazan, and we were pleased to learn that during this meeting the decision was made to facilitate the importation of such goods into the Russian Federation, as eggplants, tomatoes, pomegranates and other agricultural crops," Erdogan said after talks with Putin.
"We want all the remaining restrictions to also be removed," he said.
Putin expressed hope that the countries will manage to compensate the last year's decline in the volume of bilateral trade.
Additionally, the issue of visas was raised at the talks, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Monday, adding that Ankara's concerns are being taken into account.
"The issue of visas was really raised, and these, let's say, concerns of the Turkish side are taken into account, work on them continues," Peskov told reporters.
The two counterparts have also managed to discuss the regional and international issues, including the recent developments in the Syrian crisis.
"We believe that the Astana meetings and de-escalation zones have contributed to a certain extent to reduction of violence in this region,” Erdogan told reporters.
"We have agreed that at present, grounds allowing us to focus on the political solution of the [Syrian] issue have emerged," he said, also noting that Ankara emphasizes the importance of the joint statement of Putin and his US counterpart Donald Trump on Syria, issued after the two leaders' recent contacts in Vietnam.
Putin agreed that the joint work of Russia, Turkey and Iran as the guarantor states of the Astana process on Syrian peace settlement continued to deliver results. He stressed, however, that the long-term stabilization efforts in Syria, above all in terms of political settlement, should be stepped up.
"Amid achievements in the fight against terrorism, the president [Erdogan] and I deem necessary to step up joint efforts to ensure long-term normalization in that country… first of all to promote the process of political settlement and assistance for the Syrians in post-conflict reconstruction," Putin told reporters.
"The level of violence [in Syria] has clearly decreased, favorable conditions are being created for promotion of intra-Syrian dialogue under the auspices of the United Nations," he also said.
When asked if the two leaders had touched upon Erdogan's recent calls on Moscow and Washington to withdraw their military forces from Syria, Peskov told reporters that Putin and Erdogan had discussed complex issues with regard to Syria which are not subject to disclosure.
Before taking off for the talks with Putin in Sochi, Erdogan said that if Russia and the United States believed that no military solution to the Syrian crisis was possible, they should both withdraw their troops from the war-torn country.
"The talks have been much more complex, they, of course, are not subject to disclosure," Peskov said.