Putin meets Erdogan for 11th time in 20 months

World Today

TURKEY-RUSSIA-DIPLOMACY Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) arrives to hold a joint press conference after their meeting at the Presidential Complex in Ankara, on April 3, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / ADEM ALTAN)

Russian President Vladimir Putin made his first foreign trip since being reelected just over two weeks ago. Security, trade and the start of construction on Turkey’s first nuclear power plant were all on the agenda.

CGTN’s Michal Bardavid reports.

Flags and fireworks flew over the leaders as they watched the historic groundbreaking ceremony of the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant by video conference.

“When all of the units go online, as previously mentioned, it will meet 10 percent of Turkey’s energy needs,” Erdogan said. “So we are going to make our energy basket – which depends heavily on petrol, natural gas and coal – healthier.”

Turkey and Russia are also cooperating in other fields. The countries have signed an agreement for Ankara to purchase Russia’s S-400 missile defense system, criticized by NATO, and are also in the process of constructing the TurkStream pipeline which will transport Russian gas to Turkey.

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(FILE) This file photo taken on May 9, 2017 shows Russian S-400 Triumph medium-range and long-range surface-to-air missile systems riding through Red Square during the Victory Day military parade in Moscow. (AFP PHOTO / Natalia KOLESNIKOVA)

Putin said the missile defense system was a priority for Russia.

“In the military sphere, our priority is to fulfill a contract to supply Turkey with S-400 Triumph missile systems,” according to the president. “We expect the upcoming meeting of a targeted government-level commission to thoroughly discuss future supplies of Russia’s modern military production.”

The leaders also stressed that they plan to increase the current trade volume from over $22 billion to $100 billion. Erdogan added that Turkey looked forward to hosting more Russian tourists, reaching for a target of 6 million next year.

On Wednesday, Erdogan and Putin will hold a trilateral meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to discuss issues regarding the Syrian conflict. The meeting will reportedly focus on extending the U.N. declared ceasefire, securing territorial integrity and preventing violations.