Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will visit Russia on August 9 for his first face-to-face meeting with Vladimir Putin since Moscow and Ankara mended ties damaged by the downing of a Russian jet last year, Turkish officials said Tuesday.
“The ambassador has informed us that our dear president (Erdogan) has confirmed that he will be in Saint Petersburg on the 9th (of August),” Russian news agencies quoted Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek as saying.
An official in Turkey confirmed the date, saying that Erdogan and Putin had agreed to meet ahead of the G20 summit in China in September.
Simsek is the highest ranking Turkish official to visit Russia since the November downing of the Russian jet on the Syrian border sparked an unprecedented crisis in relations.
He said he was in Moscow to meet his Russian counterpart Arkady Dvorkovich in an effort to “normalise the situation and our relations as soon as possible and at an accelerated pace”.
Dvorkovich told Russian media that he had discussed a range of investment projects with Simsek, including the possible resumption of talks, frozen in December, on the TurkStream project to pipe gas to Turkey and southern Europe.
– ‘Thing to talk about’ –
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that the agenda for Putin’s meeting with Erdogan had yet to be finalised but that the two leaders have “things to talk about.”
“It’s safe to say that there won’t be a shortage of topics” to address, Peskov said.
The plane downing led to a bitter war of words between Putin and Erdogan, with the Kremlin strongman calling it a “stab in the back” and accusing the Turkish president of involvement in the illegal oil trade with the Islamic State jihadist group.
But after the Kremlin claimed last month that Erdogan had apologised to Putin over the incident, Moscow ordered the lifting of a string of economic sanctions including an embargo on Turkish food products and the cancellation of charter flights to the country.
The punitive measures had dealt a crushing blow to the Turkish tourism industry, which is hugely reliant on Russian tourists, especially on its Mediterranean coast.
Putin called Erdogan earlier this month to express his support after the failed putsch in Turkey, and the Kremlin confirmed at the time that the two leaders would meet in the near future.