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Putin and Erdogan to discuss Jerusalem

December 10, 2017

The two men agree that US President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital is a bad idea. They will discuss what, if anything, can be done to counter the US move.

Putin and Erdogan shake hands at the Presidential Palace in Ankara in September.
Image: Reuters/Kayhan Ozer/Presidential Palace

Russian President Vladimir Putin will discuss the crisis over Jerusalem on Monday when he meets Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara, both sides have confirmed.

During a phone call on Thursday the two leaders agreed that US President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel will negatively impact the prospects for peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

Both Turkey and Russia have expressed alarm over Trump's move, with Erdogan being especially critical.

Putin said he was "deeply concerned" while Erdogan has called an emergency summit meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) for December 13 in Istanbul.

Trump turned the Middle East on its ear this week by taking the unprecedented step of declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel and announcing that the US will move its embassy — currently in Tel Aviv — to the ancient city.

Widespread protests have ensued across the Middle East, including a protest by Israelis against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Talks on Syria, too

The Kremlin said the two men would discuss "key international problems, including the situation in the Middle East and finding a solution in Syria."

Jerusalem decision sparks protests worldwide

The two sides have been far apart on Syria. The Kremlin has been President Bashar al-Assad's strongest supporter, particularly over the past three years of the country's brutal civil war. The six year old conflict has left about 400,000 dead.

Turkey, by contrast, has sought Assad's ouster for much of the war but has recently toned down its rhetoric on that.

Putin and Erdogan also planned to "discuss current questions of bilateral cooperation and above all the progress of joint projects in energy," according to the Kremlin.

That appears to be a reference to the Akkuyu nuclear power plant Russia is building in southern Turkey, and also to the TurkStream pipeline, which is being built under the Black Sea. When it is completed, perhaps in two years' time, it will pump Russian natural gas to Turkey.

bik/rc (Reuters, AFP)