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Syria, Energy On Agenda For Putin, Erdogan In Turkey

Russian President Vladimir Putin has begun talks with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, during a visit to Ankara.

Putin and Erdogan began their talks after Putin visited the tomb of Turkish founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and stood side-by-side with Erdogan at a ceremony outside the opulent new Turkish presidential palace.

Putin's foreign policy adviser Yury Ushakov has said the conflict in Syria would be high on the agenda at the December 1 meeting.

The two countries appear so far to have successfully shielded their relations from potentially damaging disputes over the crises in Syria and Ukraine.

Russia remains a key ally of Bashar al-Assad's regime, while Erdogan is pressing for the Syrian president to be ousted.

Ankara opposed Moscow's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in March and is worried about the plight of the peninsula's Turkic Crimean Tatar minority, which activists and rights groups say is being persecuted by the Russian authorities.

Putin and Erdogan are also expected to discuss energy cooperation, with Ankara seeking a reduction in gas prices from Russia and greater import volumes ahead of the winter.

Based on reporting by AFP and TASS