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Putin Lifts Ban On Tourism In Turkey In Effort To Repair Ties

Russia lifted a ban on tours to Turkey after President Vladimir Putin (right) and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke by phone. (combo photo)

President Vladimir Putin has called for the lifting of a ban on tourists traveling to Turkey after a phone call with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, that has both leaders pledging to restore damaged relations.

Putin and Erdogan reportedly spoke for about 45 minutes on June 29 in the first contact between the two since Turkish forces downed a Russian jet on the Syrian-Turkish border in November.

That incident resulted in the death of a Russian pilot and triggered condemnation from Moscow followed by the travel restrictions on Russians and economic sanctions against Turkey.

The phone call was arranged after Erdogan expressed regret in a letter to Putin this week over the death of the pilot flying a plane that Ankara said had refused to leave Turkish airspace despite several warnings.

Putin said Erdogan’s letter had created conditions to close "the crisis chapter" in bilateral relations.

Russia says the plane was in Syrian airspace.

Putin announced that along with the lifting of the ban on tourists and flights to Turkey, the government will also look at ending an embargo on a slew of Turkish food imports.

The Kremlin's tourism ban has severely hurt Turkish resorts that rely heavily on Russian visitors.

A Russian government spokesman said the ban on visiting Turkey could be lifted in a few days and the trade restrictions could also be resolved soon.

Kazakh officials said Erdogan had also called Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev to thank him for his contribution to improving Russia-Turkey relations.

Erdogan said on June 29 that he expects to hold talks with Putin on the sidelines of the G20 summit in China in September.

With reporting by AFP, AP, and TASS
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