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Russian President In Turkey For Talks On Syria, Business


Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (right) meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Istanbul.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (right) meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Istanbul.

Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul to discuss the conflict in Syria, as well as ways to boost Turkish-Russian business cooperation.

Turkish-Russian ties have been strained over the Syrian crisis.

In October, Turkey intercepted a Syrian plane en route from Moscow to Damascus on suspicion it had military cargo.

Turkey has openly called for the ouster of the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, a longtime Moscow ally.

Russia has opposed any outside intervention in the war and Putin pointed out at a press conference with Erdogan that Western intervention in Arab countries during the Arab Spring uprisings had led to unforeseeable consequences.

"We do not want to see a repetition of what we consider mistakes of the recent past," Putin said. "Let's recall how active the Western community was in support of the Libyan rebels. Who could have predicted back then that the same people who had been supported by the West would go as far as the tragedy of the murder of the U.S. ambassador?"

Putin also spoke about Turkey's Akkuyu nuclear power plant, which Russian state nuclear company Rosatom is building.

Putin said Russia is prepared to make a huge investment in constructing the Akkuyu plant and noted the benefits Russian participation in the project will have for Turkey.

"It is a very promising and really large project. I want to stress that the investment is very big indeed -- $20 billion," he said. "All of it comes from Russia. We will finance this project in full. No less than 25 percent of this amount will be directed to the creation of new jobs in the Turkish Republic."

Putin and Erdogan also discussed additional supplies of Russian natural gas for Turkey via the Blue Stream gas pipeline.

Turkey imported some 26 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas from Russia in 2011, 16 bcm of that via the Blue Stream pipeline.

Russian Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak said Turkey is seeking an additional 3 bcm of gas and added the two countries are studying how that can be achieved by expanding capacity in Blue Stream or shipping it via the South Stream pipeline.

Construction of South Stream is due start within the coming weeks and be completed in 2015.

It is Putin's first trip abroad in some two months. The Kremlin has rejected reports that the 60-year-old Putin is suffering from a serious back problem or other health issue.

With reporting by ITAR-TASS, AFP, and Reuters

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