Russian and Turkish FMs hold first meeting since ties repaired
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu for the first time
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu on Friday for the first time since Moscow and Ankara mended ties that were shattered by the downing of a Russian jet last year.
“We hope that this encounter will set the right tone for the normalization of relations,” Lavrov was quoted as saying by TASS news agency at the start of their meeting on the sidelines of a regional economic cooperation conference in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.
The encounter comes after Moscow on Thursday ended a ban on the sale of package tours to Turkey in the first step to ending broader sanctions slapped on Ankara after it shot down a Russian fighter jet on the Turkish-Syria border in November.
The tourism move was agreed in a breakthrough phone call by leaders Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday, after the Turkish strongman sent a letter that Moscow said contained an apology.
Turkey has argued that the Russian plane strayed into its airspace and ignored repeated warnings, but Russia insisted it did not cross the border and accused Turkey of a “planned provocation”.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Friday’s talks were expected to help pave the way for a meeting between Putin and Erdogan that could take place either before or at a G20 summit in China in September.
The jet downing slammed the brakes on burgeoning relations between the two nations and sparked a bitter war of words between the two leaders.
Putin has now ordered his government to hold talks on lifting an embargo imposed on some Turkish food and to restore full trade ties with Ankara.
The crisis in relations with Moscow had dealt a blow to Turkish tourism, with the number of Russian tourists drastically declining in holiday resorts along the Mediterranean coast.