October 10, 2016 / 9:16 AM / a year ago

Russia, Turkey could sign TurkStream deal on Monday - sources

ISTANBUL, Oct 10 (Reuters) - Turkey and Russia aim to finalise an agreement on the TurkStream natural gas pipeline project during a meeting between Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Monday, a Turkish official and industry sources said.

Officials from Russian state gas producer Gazprom, the project operator, have been holding meetings since last week in Ankara and an inter-governmental agreement on the project had almost been finalised, the Turkish official said.

“We have overcome most of the problems. We aim to resolve the remaining issues and get it ready for signing,” the official said, adding that the latest version would be presented to Erdogan and Putin at the meeting later on Monday.

“The final decision will be a political one ... If the leaders decide on it, the agreement could be signed today, otherwise in a few weeks at the latest.”

Another source close to the project said the two sides had built up “serious momentum”, that there was political will, and that the deal could be signed on Monday. A second source close to the talks also said the Turkish and Russian delegations wanted to present the two leaders with a deal ready to sign.

Erdogan and Putin will be meeting on the sidelines of the World Energy Congress being held in Istanbul.

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak was quoted last month as saying Russia plans to sign an agreement with Turkey in October on TurkStream.

Talks on the project were halted last year after Turkey shot down a Russian air force jet and Russia retaliated with trade sanctions. But since then Moscow and Ankara have made significant progress to mend relations. (Reporting by Orhan Coskun; Writing by Can Sezer; Editing by Nick Tattersall)

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