Top Russian general visits Turkey

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Russian Chief of General Staff Gen. Valery Gerasimov and his Turkish counterpart discussed Syria during his visit to Ankara on Thursday, with Turkish officials noting that the talks were “very productive.”

The meeting between Gerasimov and Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar was first of its kind in 11 years, reflecting progress in bilateral ties hamstrung by Turkey’s downing of a Russian warplane last year.

Gerasimov met with Akar at military headquarters in Ankara. Sources told the media that the meeting would pave the way for a joint perspective for other conflict zones in the Middle East and more cooperation in military-to-military relations.

“The unity of understanding between the military wings of Turkey and Russia has been strengthened with this visit and has paved the way for further positive developments in the coming period,” Turkish military sources were quoted by Reuters as saying.

Russia’s top military commander’s expected visit to Ankara on Aug. 26 was postponed to a later date after Turkey entered Syria by sending tanks and armored vehicles to Jarabulus to assist a rebel operation take the city from the terrorist ISIL on Aug. 24.

Turkish-Russian relations became strained after a Russian fighter jet was shot down by Turkish military aircraft near Turkey’s border with Syria on Nov. 24, 2015.

After the incident Moscow imposed several restrictions on Turkey, resulting in deepening revenue losses in Turkey’s tourism, agriculture and textile industries.

The Kremlin announced on June 27 that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had apologized for the downed Russian warplane in a letter to Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

Putin and Erdoğan met in St. Petersburg on Aug. 16, the first time the two have gotten together since a falling out over the jet incident.

Erdoğan and Putin, who spoke by phone on Aug. 26, met a second time on Sept. 3 during a bilateral meeting ahead of the G20 summit in Hangzhou, China.

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