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Putin To Visit Ankara This Week For Talks With Turkish, Iranian Leaders


(Right to left:) Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Hassan Rohani at a meeting in Sochi in November 2017.

Relations between Turkey and Russia are fast improving as both face roadblocks in their relations with the West.

U.S. and European reactions to the poisoning of a former Russian double-agent in Britain and Turkey's worsening human rights record and intervention against Kurds in Syria have left both countries somewhat isolated.

Against this backdrop, Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to make a two-day visit to Turkey this week for talks with his Turkish and Iranian counterparts.

Putin is to meet with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara on April 3 as part of the Turkish-Russian High-Level Cooperation Council.

The Kremlin said on April 2 that bilateral trade and economic cooperation would be discussed, along with the implementation of "joint strategic projects, in particular in the energy sector."

It said the two leaders were expected to officially launch the first unit of Turkey's Akkuyu nuclear power station through a teleconference.

In April 2015, Russian state nuclear energy conglomerate Rosatom began construction of the four-unit plant with an estimated cost of $20 billion.

Akkuyu is Turkey's first nuclear power station on the Mediterranean, part of the hydrocarbon-poor state's drive to attain greater energy self-sufficiency.

"Turkish-Russian relations are in a better mood compared with two years before . both parties are working together," Mitat Celikpala, a professor of international relations at Istanbul's Kadir Has University told AP.

"They managed to compartmentalize issues," Celikpala said, citing Turkish and Russian divisions, including over the divided island of Cyprus and Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea. "If you set aside all those issues . they are good partners for the resolution of immediate interests."

The Kremlin said that Putin and Erdogan also planned to discuss "regional and international issues, including the joint fight against terrorism and the situation in Syria," ahead of a trilateral meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rohani in Ankara on April 4.

Russia, Turkey, and Iran are all deeply involved in the seven-year Syrian conflict and sponsor peace talks in the Kazakh capital, Astana.

Russia, along with Iran, has given crucial military and diplomatic backing to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government throughout the war, which began with a government crackdown on protesters and has killed hundreds of thousands of people.

Turkey supports rebels who want to oust Assad.

Relations between Russia and Turkey soured badly after Turkish jets shot down a Russian warplane near the Syrian border in November 2015, but Putin and Erdogan have taken steps to mend ties since then.

Ankara is negotiating the purchase of S-400 missile defense systems from Russia, raising eyebrows among Turkey's NATO allies.

With reporting by Reuters, TASS, Interfax, and AP
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