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Turkey-Russia ties at their highest in defense & trade, Erdogan tells Putin, as the two leaders meet to untie Idlib knot

Turkey-Russia ties at their highest in defense & trade, Erdogan tells Putin, as the two leaders meet to untie Idlib knot
Overshadowed by the standoff in Idlib, northwestern Syria, the relationships between Moscow and Ankara remain at “peak” levels, including in defense and trade, the Turkish leader said, vowing each state is ready to move forward.

“We are now experiencing the moment in our relations when they reached their peak. This, without doubt, applies to the defense industry, and trade relations, and so on,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Vladimir Putin as they convened for a one-to-one meeting in Moscow.

We believe that the biggest task is to promote and develop our relations. I believe that we will succeed in this matter.

Putin was also of the opinion that Turkey-Russia ties should be preserved, whatever challenges arise. “We need to talk through the whole current situation so it won’t repeat itself and won’t harm our relations,” he said, adding that Russia “treasures” its ties with Ankara.

The two presidents are meeting on the back of tensions that escalated in Syria’s Idlib province since the end of February, when at least 34 Turkish troops perished in an airstrike attributed to the Syrian military. Ankara swiftly responded by deploying a sizeable task force to the area and declaring all Syrian military assets legitimate targets.

READ MORE: Putin-Erdogan summit: Prelude to Russo-Turkish clash or last best hope for Syrian peace?

Numerous units of the Syrian Army have since come under fire from Turkish artillery and drone attacks since then, hampering their offensive against jihadist militants who are holed up in Idlib. The Syrian troops have also sustained losses, though the exact number of casualties varies, depending on the source.

During the Thursday meeting, Putin expressed his condolences over the death of Turkish troops in Syria, describing the loss as “a big tragedy.” He stressed that the Syrian Army had been unaware of the Turkish forces’ location, which the Russian defense ministry had earlier said were not supposed to be in the area, according to Ankara’s own memo.

Also on rt.com Acute crisis in Syria's Idlib demanded our direct talks, Putin says as he meets Erdogan in Moscow

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