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Putin: U.S. Decision On Jerusalem Destabilizing Middle East


Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a press conference with Egypt's president following their talks in Cairo earlier on December 11.

Russia and Turkey agree that U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is destabilizing the situation in the Middle East, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said.

Putin who was speaking at a news conference alongside Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after bilateral talks in Ankara on December 11, also said Russia hoped to sign credit agreements for the defense industry with Turkey soon.

Erdogan said that Ankara and Moscow were on the same page regarding the U.S. move on Jerusalem and added that the two leaders would keep in contact on the issue.

He said Turkish and Russian officials will meet to finalize Turkey's acquisition of Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile systems in the coming week.

"Our officials will come together in the coming week to finalize the S-400 issue," Erdogan said.

NATO member Turkey has been negotiating with Moscow to buy the system for more than a year. The United States and some of its NATO allies see the move as a snub because the weapons cannot be integrated into the alliance's defenses.

Turkey has been working to develop its own defense systems and equipment and has lined up several projects for the coming years including combat helicopters, tanks, drones, and more.

Ankara expects to receive its first S-400 system in 2019, Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli said last month.

Putin and Erdogan also discussed developments in Syria and the Middle East, as well as bilateral relations, according to the Turkish president's office.

Relations between the two countries were tense after Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet for violating its airspace in 2015.

But Putin and Erdogan have since restored bilateral relations, and the two met several times this year. They regularly hold telephone conversations as they and Iran are involved in talks to find a solution to the conflict in Syria.

Putin arrived in Turkey from Egypt, where he met with his Egyptian counterpart in Cairo for talks on the two countries' expanding ties and regional issues.

Nuclear Power, Renewed Air Links

Following his meeting with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on December 11, Putin said that Russia was ready in principle to resume direct passenger flights to Egypt and an agreement is expected to be signed in the near future

Russia suspended commercial flights to Egypt after a passenger plane carrying Russian vacationers back home from a Red Sea beach resort blew up over the Sinai Peninsula in October 2015, killing all 224 people on board. An affiliate of the extremist group Islamic State (IS) based in Sinai claimed responsibility.

Russian and Egyptian officials have held talks on boosting airport security and resuming air travel, but no deal has been reached so far.

During Putin's visit, Egypt and Russia signed an agreement to start work on Egypt's first nuclear power plant, state television showed.

Russian state nuclear company Rosatom said the Dabaa nuclear station on the Mediterranean coast will have four reactors and cost up to $21 billion with construction expected to finish in 2028-29.

Putin flew to Egypt after a previously unannounced visit to Syria, where he ordered the Russian military to start withdrawing its forces from the war-ravaged Middle Eastern country.

U.S. President Donald Trump announced last week his decision to recognize the disputed city of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, sparking criticism from U.S. allies in Europe, the Middle East, and beyond which said it was not helpful for peace.

Egypt, Turkey, and Russia have all denounced Trump's decision. Putin and Erdogan voiced "serious concern" about it in a phone conversation on December 7, the Kremlin said.

Russia's major role in the war in Syria, where it has given President Bashar al-Assad's government crucial military backing, has increased its influence in the Middle East.

Putin has courted closer ties with Egypt and NATO-member Turkey as well as other countries in the region in recent years.

With reporting by AP, Interfax, Bloomberg, Reuters, dpa, and TASS
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