Turkish and Russian presidents meeting raise eyebrows

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin speak at a news conference after their talks in the Konstantin palace outside St.Petersburg, Russia, on Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2016.

Previously close ties between Moscow and Ankara broke down after a Turkish jet shot down a Russian warplane at the Syrian border, an incident that Mr Putin had described as a "treacherous stab in the back". "The general mood has been very positive", the official said after the meeting in St. Petersburg.

Erdogan's visit is his first foreign trip since the abortive coup, in which more than 240 people were killed.

Erdogan has also expressed resentment toward Western allies that have cautioned against the mass detentions and firings of alleged Gulen supporters in Turkey since the coup attempt.

As Turkish diplomats and military and intelligence officials held talks in Moscow yesterday, foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said his compatriots had lost confidence in the European Union because it had "failed a test" over the coup. With Russia mired in economic crisis due to Western sanctions over Ukraine and low oil prices, along with Turkey's flagging outlook, both men want to get business started again.

The first round of talks between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin ended with the leaders announcing there will be a second round of talks focusing on mainly the crisis in Syria. The visit is being closely watched in the West, where some fear both men might use their rapprochement to exert pressure on Washington and the European Union and stir tensions within North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, the military alliance of which Turkey is a member.

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North Atlantic Treaty Organisation spokeswoman Oana Lungescu insisted the alliance's secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, had been quick to call Mr Erdogan "strongly condemning the attempted coup and reiterating full support for Turkey's democratic institutions".

The Russian president categorically condemned the failed military coup.

Mr Erdogan insists that Mr Assad must go - a position opposed by Mr Putin - but has told Russian media that the Syrian conflict could now become the focus for renewed cooperation between the two sides.

Russian Federation is carrying out a bombing campaign in support of President Bashar Assad while Turkey is fiercely opposed to the Syrian leader.

Erdogan also initiated a friendly talk saying that Turkey was entering a "very different period" in relations with Russian Federation, and that solidarity between the two countries would help the resolution of regional problems.

These elements were pleased with Turkey's involvement in Aleppo, the official said, adding that the latest push was planned to coincide with Tuesday's summit.

  • Sonia Alvarado