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Putin arrives in Ankara for talks with Erdogan

IANS | Ankara |

Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Ankara on Thursday for talks with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on issues of bilateral ties, Syria and Iraq.

The two leaders held face-to-face talks late Thursday at the presidential compound in Ankara.

They were expected to discuss topics related to the bilateral relations and the latest regional developments, especially the Syria and Iraq issues, Xinhua reported.

The de-escalation zones in Syria established after the recent Astana talks, the independence referendum by the Kurds in northern Iraq, and the fight against Islamic State (IS) will be on top of their agenda, an official statement said.

Putin was welcomed by Erdogan on Thursday afternoon with an official ceremony at the presidential compound.

The two presidents were also scheduled to hold a joint press conference after the talks.

The Turkey-Russia ties have grown closer recently as Ankara’s relations with the US and Europe are strained due to differences on human rights amid the West’s criticism of Erdogan’s crackdown on dissidents following last year’s failed coup.

Though being a NATO member, Turkey signed a deal recently with Russia to buy the S-400 air-defence systems, in a move that has angered the US and other NATO allies.