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Putin holds talks with Turkey’s Erdogan in Moscow
September 23, 2015, 3:32 pm

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan being welcomed at the Kremlin by Russian President Vladimir Putin on 23 September 2015 [PPIO]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan being welcomed at the Kremlin by Russian President Vladimir Putin on 23 September 2015 [PPIO]

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan met in Moscow on Wednesday to discuss “bilateral relations and issues on the international agenda” the Kremlin said.

Putin said the two leaders had “plenty to discuss”.

“As for our economic ties, despite the fall due to a number of objective circumstances, Russia remains Turkey’s second-biggest trade and economic partner. Our trade and economic ties continue to diversify, which makes us very happy. Investment has increased on both sides, by around $10 billion from each country,” he told Erdogan.

In 2014, Russia-Turkey trade reached $31 billion, and it has already hit $11 billion over the first six months of this year, according to official Turkish statistics.

“As you know, our goal is to reach a figure of $100 billion by 2023. Let us hope that fortune is on our side and we will succeed in reaching this objective,” Erdogan said during his meeting with Putin.

Burgeoning trade between the two countries has boosted ties, clouded in recent times by political differences on the Syrian crisis.

In a TV interview on Monday, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the Syrian crisis will be discussed during the Putin-Erdogan meet at the Kremlin.

“Inshallah [God willing] Russia will not insist on ways and methods that will increase the tension,” Davutoglu said.

Turkey has repeatedly said that Syrian President Assad is part of the problem in Syria and must step down.

Officially, Russia has staunchly backed Assad through the four-and-half-year Syrian war, insisting that foreign military intervention is not a solution to the crisis. Moscow, and other BRICS capitals, had warned repeatedly against the Western arming of Syrian rebel groups fighting Assad.

Since the civil war broke out 250,000 Syrians have been killed, 12 million have become refugees.

US officials have reiterated their objections to Russia increasing its military presence in Syria and have expressed concern about whether Moscow is boosting support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Meanwhile, in Moscow on Wednesday, Erdogan called on the EU to do more to resolve the Syrian refugee crisis.

“I want to recall the Russian writer Tolstoy’s message, which says the most important act in life is kindness,” said Erdogan.

Referring to images of refugees who drowned trying to reach Europe, Erdogan said the pictures should “embarrass the whole of humanity.”