Erdoğan, Putin talk over Syria in separate meeting

Erdoğan, Putin talk over Syria in separate meeting

Erdoğan, Putin talk over Syria in separate meeting

AP photo

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the Syrian crisis in a separate meeting following a joint meeting with ministers and a press conference in St. Petersburg on Aug. 9. 

Turkey and Russia stand on different ends of the spectrum of the parties involved in the Syrian crisis. While Putin supports Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Turkey wants to oust al-Assad for a new to be formed political settlement. 

Speaking alongside Putin at a joint press conference in St. Petersburg on Aug. 9, after more than eight months of strained relations, Erdoğan said that the two leaders would meet on a “one-on-one narrow scope” after the press conference and handle the Syrian issue at that meeting. 

Putin, for his part, said the two leaders would talk over the issue during a separate meeting with the participation of some ministers. 

Russia joined in the battle in Syria alongside al-Assad in September 2015 by launching airstrikes for the Syrian president and forces loyal to him. 

Russia and Turkey had the common goal of resolving the crisis in Syria and it was possible to resolve the differences on how to handle it, Putin said.

Putin said Russia’s views on Syria had not always coincided with those of Turkey but the two states agreed to talk further and seek solutions.

“I think it is possible to align our views and approaches [on Syria],” Putin told reporters.

The visit marked a first since Turkey downed a Russian fighter jet along its border with Syria on grounds of an airspace violation on Nov. 24, 2015. 

Turkey accused Russia of an airspace violation, which Russia denied, and the latter imposed economic sanctions on the former’s goods and tourism facilities in response. 

Relations improved upon a letter penned by Erdoğan and sent to Putin expressing his regret over the incident. 

The meeting also marked Erdoğan’s first foreign visit since a failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 15.