Putin, Erdogan to meet to end tensions

Erdogan is expected to meet with Putin on the sidelines of the forthcoming G20 summit in China

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to meet with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the forthcoming G20 summit in China, their first face-to-face talks for months following a bitter diplomatic row.

“A meeting is planned in China during the G-20 summit in September,” a Turkish official told AFP on Wednesday speaking on condition of anonymity.

The news came after Putin and Erdogan on Wednesday held their first phone call since Ankara downed one of Moscow's jets in Syria last year, both sides said, and will later meet in person.

Putin said after the phone call with Erdogan that he would lift travel restrictions to Turkey. The downing of a Russian warplane in November shattered ties between the two nations and saw Moscow slap an embargo on Turkish food products and ban charter flights and the sale of package tours to the country.

The Turkish president said in a statement after the call that the two leaders would “remain in contact and “meet in person” to “reinvigorate bilateral relations and fight terrorism together.”

The two leaders spoke as they sought to mend ties over the November incident that saw Moscow slap sanctions on Ankara.

The Kremlin said that Putin, at an event with schoolchildren in Moscow earlier on Wednesday, also expressed his sympathy over a triple suicide bombing and gun attack at Istanbul's Ataturk airport that killed at least 36 people.

“President Putin expressed condolences to the Turkish people over the monstrous terrorist attack,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

The breakthrough phone call came after the Turkish strongman on Monday sent a letter to Putin that Moscow said contained an apology.

Ankara has said Erdogan expressed his “regret” over the incident in the letter to Putin and asked the family of the pilot who died to “excuse us”, but has not explicitly confirmed he apologised for shooting down the plane.

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