Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (right)) shake hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Presidential Complex in Ankara on December 11. Photo: Alexei Druzhinin | AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Defense deals and a shared interest in a national congress aimed at peace for the Syrian conflict dominated Russian President Vladimir Putin's meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara.
"Naturally, the focus was made on the situation in the Middle East settlement that has deteriorated dramatically and on the Syrian affairs where our countries are closely cooperating," Putin told journalists after the talks, according to Russian state news TASS.
Putin revealed he had discussed possibly convening the Syrian National Dialogue Congress in early 2018 with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad — sponsored by Iran, Russia, and Turkey.
Russia has advocated for Syrian Kurds to participate in the talks, while Turkey has called their involvement a “red line.”
In a statement the Turkish presidential website, Erdogan explained as Astana guarantors, the two countries "will make a significant contribution to the Geneva process in order to find a lasting political solution to the Syrian conflict."
He added that "they have to keep this same momentum in the coming period."
The Russian president also said from January to September trade rose by 36 percent with Turkey to $15 billion, while the whole of 2016 totaled $15.8 billion.
In Putin's speech, he additionally called Erdogan "our friend." The two officially have met eight times in 2017.
Joint construction of the Akkuyu Nuclear Plant in Mersin Province, Turkey, and other current partnered projects will continue "with willingness and determination."
“Our colleagues will come together this week to conclude this work,” Turkey's Hurriyet Daily News reported Erdogan as saying at a press conference after the meeting.
The "work" to which Erdogan referred was Turkey's purchase from Russia of the S-400 missile system that, which can track up to 300 targets simultaneously for its eight-launcher, 112-missile payload.
Erdogan also expressed his concern with US President Donald Trump's recent recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
The visit to Ankara followed stops also on Monday to Syria to visit Assad and to Egypt to meet with President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
In Syria, Putin announced the defeat of ISIS in Syria and a withdrawal of Russian troops. Putin and Sisi signed a contract for the construction of the Dabaa Nuclear Power Plant in Egypt and for the delivery of nuclear fuel to the plant.
Putin said he spoke with Sisi about his conversation with Assad "as well as our arrangements with the leaders of Turkey and Iran regarding further steps towards a political settlement in Syria."
The Syrian civil war has waged since 2011. Russia, the Assad regime's primary backer, has been militarily involved there since 2015.