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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Turkish Delegation Arrives to Talk Trade

bloombergTurkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan began a three-day visit to Russia on Monday with a meeting with President Vladimir Putin.

Putin said at the opening of the talks at his Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow that the discussion would focus on bilateral relations and international issues of concern to both countries, Itar-Tass reported. Erdogan also was to meet with business representatives and to attend the opening of a Turkish trade center in Moscow.

One key issue is likely to be the support among many Turks for Chechen rebels, who have been fighting federal forces for more than five years. Russia has urged Turkey to crack down on charities it claims channel money and weapons to the Chechen rebels, and says many Turks have fought alongside the militants.

Turkey's bid to join the European Union also is of interest to Russia, which is sensitive to the prospect of being economically isolated by the bloc's eastern expansion.

Both countries recently played up the promise of economic cooperation. Compared with the first half of 2003, bilateral trade rose by 60 percent in the first half of 2004, reaching $4.6 billion.

Erdogan said bilateral trade could reach $15 billion in 2005, Itar-Tass reported.

A recently built pipeline carries Russian natural gas beneath the Black Sea to Turkey, which relies on Russia for some two-thirds of its gas. Gazprom is interested in projects for gas storage and more extensive distribution in Turkey.

Turkish companies are active in Russia's booming construction, retail and brewing industries, while its Mediterranean resorts are a favorite among richer Russians, whose visits have fostered familiarity between the traditional foes.

But Turkey's control over the Bosporus -- the water route that connects the Black Sea and the Mediterranean -- has been a sore point. Turkey says increasing Russian oil tanker traffic through the strait is hazardous, while Russia says delays cost its exporters hundreds of millions of dollars per year.