Russia and Turkey to focus on economic and trade ties | News | DW | 01.12.2014
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Russia and Turkey to focus on economic and trade ties

Russian President Vladimir Putin has met with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on an official visit to Ankara. Putin has also announced plans to build a gas hub on the Turkey-Greece border.

Vladimir Putin arrived Monday in Turkey's capital, Ankara, accompanied by a large delegation of 10 ministers. He was welcomed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at his new palace, which contains 1,000 rooms and has been criticized by opposition parties and environmentalists as being too costly and extravagant.

Putin was the second world leader to be hosted at the new palace, after Pope Francis, who visited Ankara on Friday.

Having their differences on Syria and Ukraine, the two leaders decided to focus on trade. The two business partners aimed to increase bilateral trade - which includes gas supplies, tourism and construction - from $33 billion (26.5 billion euros) at present to $100 billion by 2020.

Moscow, the largest supplier of gas to Turkey, also promised to help Ankara build its first nuclear power plant and said it would reduce gas prices by 6 percent while increasing the annual volume by 3 billion cubic meters (800 billion gallons).

South Stream pipeline to be scrapped

The Russian leader also said that his country would scrap the South Stream pipeline, a project that would have supplied gas to southern Europe through Bulgaria by circumventing Ukraine.

Putin cited reluctance on the part of the EU to approve the project. He said that his country would build a gas hub on the border between Turkey and Greece to supply gas to Europe and compensate for the loss from the South Stream pipeline.

Russia has been the target of several rounds of sanctions by the EU and US, who accuse it of supporting rebels in eastern Ukraine.

The turmoil in Ukraine has not been mentioned in the talks between the two trading partners.Turkey has openly supported Ukraine's territorial integrity and has also recognized Tatar leaders who strongly oppose Russia's annexation of the Crimean peninsula.

Moscow and Ankara also differ in their opinions regarding Syria. Putin is a strong ally of President Bashar al-Assad's, while Turkey supports the rebel forces.

mg/mkg (AP, Reuters, AFP, dpa)

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