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Turkey Mediating between Russia and Syrian Opposition

Dec. 7, 2016 (EIRNS)—Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim has finished a very productive official visit to Russia, where meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev consolidated economic and political ties.

On Syria, Yildirim told Sputnik that Turkey is acting as a mediator between the Syrian opposition and Russia, and that Russia and Turkey have a common approach to resolution of the crisis in Syria.

"Work in this direction is ongoing, of course. It is necessary to concentrate here on working out a decision and overcoming the crisis. Turkey has made a very serious contribution and intends to continue it in the future to put an end to bloodshed in Syria. Indubitably, at this stage we understand each other better than ever before. We have a common approach in working out the resolution to the crisis in Syria."

He also said Turkey is working on the issue of withdrawal of militants from east Aleppo.

"Turkey is working on this issue right now. From the very beginning, our efforts have been aimed at withdrawal of terrorist groups from Aleppo. ... It is important to clearly distinguish between those who [are] fighting for the liberation of their country and those who are members of recognized terrorist groups. Our joint goal is fighting terrorist groups,"

Yildirim said.

It was once again reiterated that energy is a key area of cooperation between Turkey and Russia, especially the Turkish Stream pipeline. Commenting on the approval of the pipeline project by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier this week, Putin told Yildirim during their meeting, "I want you to convey my sincere greetings to President Erdogan. We appreciate his approval for the law regarding the TurkStream," and said that it was one of the "major" projects that both countries wanted to put into effect.

For his part, Yildirim said the year-long "unpleasant" period was over (after the Turks shot down a Russian jet in Syria). "The areas where we will intensify our relations are certain; energy comes first," Yildirim said.

Within hours of Yildirim’s departure from Moscow yesterday, Alexei Miller, chief executive of Russian gas giant Gazprom, told journalists that work on the underwater section of the pipeline could begin by the second half of 2017. There would eventually be two pipelines—one that will ship gas to the Turkish market and one with gas destined for Europe, and these will come onstream by the end of 2019.

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