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Putin hails closer Moscow-Ankara ties on Syria crisis

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) shakes hands with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the Kremlin, Moscow, Russia, on March 10, 2017. (Photo by TASS news agency)

Russian President Vladimir Putin has praised close interactions between Moscow and Ankara as part of efforts to find a promising solution to the nearly six-year-long foreign-sponsored militancy in Syria, which has killed thousands of people and left the Arab country in ruins.

“We are actively working to solve the most acute crises, first of all in Syria. I'm very pleased to note, and few seemed to expect it, that our military and special services have established such efficient and close contact,” Putin said as he welcomed Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the start of talks focusing on Syria in the Kremlin on Friday.

He highlighted that the military authorities and intelligence services of Russia and Turkey have “a very trustful and effective dialogue” on Syria.

“We are pleased to see our ties recovering at a quick tempo,” Putin pointed out.

The Russian president also praised the coordination between his country, Iran, and Turkey to maintain a ceasefire in Syria.

"As a result of the coordinated actions of Russia, Turkey and Iran, the truce in Syria is generally respected. The level of violence has significantly decreased. We agreed with our Turkish counterparts to further actively cooperate in the fight against terrorist groups, primarily with Daesh, working together through the military and special services," Putin stated.

Last December, Russian and Turkish diplomats met in Moscow with Iranian envoys and worked out a nationwide ceasefire in Syria, extending an earlier truce that ended years of fighting in Aleppo and put the strategic city back under the Damascus government’s control.

Diplomats from the three countries have also mediated several rounds of peace negotiations between representatives of the Syrian government and armed opposition groups  in Kazakhstan's capital city of Astana.

Erdogan, for his part, noted that cooperation in the construction of Turkish Stream natural gas pipeline, which will run from Russia’s southern region of Krasnodar across the Black Sea to Turkish Thrace, and building of the Akkuyu nuclear power plant in Turkey’s southern province of Mersin, has regained pace and is increasingly developing.

Defense industry and energy are among the main areas of trade cooperation between Ankara and Moscow, the Turkish leader said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) meets with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, on March 10, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)

The comments come as Turkey and Russia have been supporting opposing sides in the conflict in Syria. While Russia has stressed the need to support the legitimate Syrian government, Turkey has been offering support to the anti-Damascus militants.

Turkey, however, has recently been surprisingly gravitating toward Russia. A standoff in November 2015 had plunged the two countries’ relations into turmoil.

Back then, the Turkish military shot down a Russian fighter jet as it was conducting operations over Syria. One of the two pilots of the Russian Sukhoi Su-24M was killed by foreign-backed Takfiri militants on the ground after parachuting out of the targeted jet.

Following the failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 16, 2016, Turkish officials, who had previously defended the downing of the Russian jet, distanced themselves from the incident, saying the bomber aircraft had been targeted by military personnel who later took part in the putsch attempt against Ankara.

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