ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan discussed the war in Syria with Russia’s Vladimir Putin on Monday, including Turkey’s military operations there and the need to cooperate on aid to Aleppo.
At a joint news conference after a meeting in Istanbul, Erdogan and Putin said they both agreed on the importance of delivering aid to Aleppo, whose opposition-held eastern sector has been encircled by Russian-backed Syrian forces for all but a short period since July.
“We have a common position that everything must be done to deliver humanitarian aid to Aleppo. The only issue is ... ensuring the safety of aid delivery,” Putin told a joint briefing in Istanbul after his talks with Erdogan.
Russia has backed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad with a year-long air campaign against the rebels fighting him. Turkey backs the rebels and wants to see Assad out of power.
Erdogan said he was confident that a normalisation in ties with Russia, strained after Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet near the Syrian border last year, would nonetheless be fast.
“Today has been a full day with President Putin of discussing Russia-Turkish relations ... We had a chance to discuss Syria in detail,” Erdogan said.
“We discussed ... how we can cooperate on this matter, especially on humanitarian aid to Aleppo, what strategy can we implement so that people in Aleppo can find peace. We will come together with our foreign ministries and top military leaders and intelligence officers,” he said.
On Saturday, Russia vetoed a French-drafted U.N. Security Council resolution that would have demanded an end to air strikes and military flights over Aleppo. A rival Russian draft text failed to get a minimum nine votes in favour.
Reporting by Olesya Astakhova and Nick Tattersall; Editing by Hugh Lawson