Putin meets Erdogan in Russia to rebuild ties

AFP , Tuesday 9 Aug 2016

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan speaks to Russian President Vladimir Putin during their meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia August 09, 2016 (Photo:Reuters)

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday hosted Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in their first encounter since Ankara downed one of Moscow's warplanes last November, sparking a deep diplomatic crisis.

"Your visit today, despite a very difficult situation regarding domestic politics, indicates that we all want to restart dialogue and restore relations between Russia and Turkey," Putin said as the two met in Saint Petersburg.

The visit to Russia is Erdogan's first foreign trip since the failed coup against him in July, which sparked a purge of political opponents and cast a shadow over Turkey's relations with the West.

"I know that I was one of the first who called you to express support regarding the crisis," Putin said of the coup attempt. "I want to say once again that this is our principled position, we are against any unconstitutional actions."

Erdogan said the Turkish people were "happy" Putin had expressed his support following the attempted coup, expecting the two countries to "enter into a very different phase with the steps we will take and have taken."

The shooting down of a Russian fighter jet by a Turkish F-16 over the Syrian border last November saw a furious Putin slap economic sanctions on Turkey and launch a blistering war of words with Erdogan that seemed to irrevocably damage burgeoning ties.

But Putin in June said Erdogan had sent a letter expressing his regret over the incident and announced a rollback of some of the sanctions.

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