[00:00.00]Russia and Turkey are taking steps to improve ties and work together in Syria after talks between the Russian and Turkish leaders.
[00:12.70]Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Saint Petersburg on Tuesday.
[00:23.05]Putin announced that Russia would begin easing sanctions designed to punish Turkey.
[00:30.43]The move would include restarting work on energy projects,
[00:35.78]such as work on Turkey’s first nuclear power center and a pipeline from southern Russia to the Black Sea.
[00:45.58]Russian officials said trade with Turkey could return to normal by the end of the year.
[00:53.75]The Hurriyet Daily News reported that the two sides agreed to set up a direct telephone line between their militaries to prevent incidents in Syrian airspace.
[01:08.94]In November, Turkey shot down a Russian jet bomber near its border with Syria.
[01:16.84]Turkish officials accused the airplane of violating Turkish airspace.
[01:23.36]Russia denied the plane had been over Turkey and called the act a planned provocation by supporters of terrorism.
[01:35.48]Russian officials answered the Turkish move by ordering economic and diplomatic sanctions on its neighbor.
[01:44.72]In June, the Turkish president apologized for the incident, and the two sides agreed to hold direct talks.
[01:54.83]Russia supports the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while Turkey has supported groups trying to force him from power.
[02:07.02]The two sides have been fighting in Syria for more than five years.
[02:12.36]The violence has caused more than 2.5 million refugees from Syria to enter Turkey.
[02:21.03]Russia increased its involvement in the fighting last year by carrying out bombing raids on Syrian rebel targets.
[02:32.12]Some observers, however, are questioning how much Turkey and Russia can cooperate.
[02:40.09]They say the two sides have little common ground in Syria’s civil war.
[02:47.87]Military expert Alexander Golts says, “I think until now they have no clear decision because it’s clear that their interests are colliding in Syria.”
[03:01.77]Golts currently works as a visiting researcher at Uppsula University in Sweden.
[03:10.31]However, the talks between the two presidents could be a sign that Recep Tayyip Erdogan wants compromise on the issue of Syria.
[03:22.64]The meeting also could show Western allies that the Turkish leader has several options available to him.
[03:33.04]Ishat Saetov directs the Modern Turkey Studies Center in Moscow.
[03:39.91]He said Erdogan was surprised by the effect Russian economic actions had on Turkey.
[03:48.81]The “loss of more than 4 million tourists made quite a blow on the economy,” he said.
[03:56.35]Although the two countries disagree about Syria, Russia supported Erdogan after members of Turkey’s military attempted to overthrow his government.
[04:08.70]The United States and European countries have criticized Turkey’s reaction to the failed overthrow attempt.
[04:17.30]The Turkish government has arrested thousands of people, including many reporters.
[04:25.19]Turkey accuses clergyman Fethullah Gulen of plotting the failed coup.
[04:32.25]Gulen lives in the American state of Pennsylvania.
[04:37.03]Turkish officials want him extradited to Turkey for trial.
[04:42.67]The U.S. government has refused to do this without evidence.
[04:48.99]Turkey is also in disagreement with Europe over payments for accepting Syrian refugees and other migrants.
[04:58.71]The government wants the European Union to permit visa-free travel for Turkish citizens.
[05:06.85]“Syria is one of the issues that Erdogan may trade upon,” said Saetov.
[05:13.49]He said Erdogan may be willing to negotiate on the issue.
[05:19.43]Yet Turkish officials say Assad must leave office eventually and that Russia will not take the place of its western allies.
[05:29.57]I’m Mario Ritter.