UPDATE – Ankara, Moscow eye clearing Idlib, Syria of terrorism

             ADDS MORE REMARKS OF TURKISH PRESIDENT</p>  <p>By Diyar Guldogan and Elena Teslova</p>  <p>ANKARA / MOSCOW (AA) - Turkey's president said Monday that Turkey and Russia both want to eliminate terrorists from Idlib, a region in northwestern Syria near Turkish borders.</p>  <p>&quot;Ankara will never allow [the presence of] an entity that poses a threat to Turkish and Syrian territorial integrity,&quot; Recep Tayyip Erdogan told a joint news conference with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin.</p>  <p>Ankara continues to take measures on Idlib since it is a &quot;sensitive&quot; issue for Turkey, Erdogan said.</p>  <p>&quot;On the basis of our common understanding with Russia, we are determined to dismantle the terrorism from Syria that threatens our national security,.&quot;</p>  <p>He stressed that Idlib must be completely cleared of terrorism for people to return safely to their homes.</p>  <p>&quot;To date we have taken the steps we should take in Idlib, and we will continue to do so. Because retreat is impossible.&quot;</p>  <p>Erdogan also said that both countries are determined to eliminate the terror threats near Turkey's borders, adding that the terrorist groups PKK and the YPG -- its Syrian branch -- pose a threat like Daesh.</p>  <p>In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU -- has been responsible for the deaths of nearly 40,000 people, including women and children. The PYD/YPG is its Syrian branch.</p>  <p>Turkey and Russia’s “intense contacts and sincere dialogue have had a positive impact on our bilateral relations,&quot; Erdogan said.</p>  <p>Stressing the importance of defense industry cooperation with Russia, Erdogan said Turkey has taken steps on this, adding that he expects a shift to trade using local currencies as soon as possible.</p>  <p>On Turkey’s purchase of Russian S-400 missile defense systems, Erdogan said that no one expects Ankara to renege on the deal, which is its national right.</p>  <p>&quot;If we made a deal, then that’s it,&quot; he said.</p>  <p>Putin, for his part, said that Turkish-Russian efforts in Idlib will finally lead to eliminating the terrorist threat there.</p>  <p>Calling the Idlib problem &quot;pressing,&quot; he added that a joint Russian-Turkish monitoring center will be established.</p>  <p> </p>  <p>-Stronger trade ties</p>  <p>Putin praised the talks in Moscow as &quot;very successful&quot; and helping to boost the development of Turkish-Russian ties.</p>  <p>He stressed the strengthening of cooperation between the two countries, adding that a Russian-Turkish investment fund created Monday will be able to attract at leas  on in investments.</p>  <p>Putin said that Russia is doing its best to ensure economic independence for both countries, including trading in national currencies with Turkey.</p>  <p>He called Russian-Turkish cooperation in the energy domain &quot;strategic&quot; and promised to complete construction of the Akkuyu nuclear plant by 2023, the centenary of the Turkish Republic.</p>  <p>The TurkStream pipeline now under construction will let Turkey become a transit country for delivering Russian natural gas to Europe, he said.</p>  <p>Putin said he discussed with Erdogan the delivery of S-400 missile defense systems and other arms purchases, adding that Russia and Turkey will boost cooperation in arms.</p>  <p>He also said that Russian journalists will come to Turkey for an exchange program, which will contribute to stronger ties.</p>  <p>In another trade boost, Putin said that the visa requirement for Turkish truck drivers will be cancelled in the near future.</p>  <p>&quot;Ankara and Moscow are willing to further enhance relations,&quot; said President Erdogan, adding that the next high-level meeting with Russia will be hosted by Turkey.</p>  <p>The two leaders earlier Monday chaired the 8th meeting of the High-Level Cooperation Council following one-on-one talks at Kremlin.<br> <br> * Additional writing by Jeyhun Aliyev</p>  <p> 

UPDATE – Turkey, Russia cooperation boosting, says Erdogan

             </p>                 <p>UPDATES WITH MORE REMARKS FROM TURKISH PRESIDENT; EDITS THROUGHOUT</p>    <p>By Sena Guler and Faruk Zorlu</p>    <p>ANKARA (AA) - Cooperation between Turkey and Russia continues increasingly, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday.</p>    <p>“Our cooperation with Russia continues increasingly and becomes stronger [day by day],” Erdogan told reporters ahead of his departure from Istanbul for Moscow.</p>    <p>The meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin will be the third face-to-face meeting of 2019, Erdogan stated.</p>    <p>Two leaders will discuss bilateral relations as well as regional and global developments, Turkish leader said.</p>    <p>Erdogan will attend the eighth High-Level Cooperation Council meeting between the two countries. The meeting is being held annually since 2010.</p>    <p>The visa-free travel between Turkey and Russia is also an agenda item, Erdogan said.</p>    <p>From trade and tourism to energy and culture, Turkey and Russia are experiencing improvement in the bilateral relations, Erdogan said.</p>    <p>“Our trade volume has reached to $26 billion last year with a 15% increase annually.”</p>    <p>Expressing belief in having more potential cooperation with Russia, Erdogan said economic relations will be discussed during the meeting, as well.</p>  <p> </p>  <p>- 2019 Turkish-Russian Culture and Tourism Year 

During his visit to Russia, Erdogan and Putin will attend an opera titled Troy, based on the Greek epic, in the opening ceremony of mutual culture year.

The opera will be performed by Turkish singers at Russia's Bolshoi Theatre.

The 2019 was announced a cross-year of Turkish- Russian culture in the two countries.

Also underlining importance of maintaining the cultural and art activities mutually throughout the year, Erdogan said: “I believe that the eighth meeting of High Level Cooperation Council will pave the way for new horizons [to reach] on bilateral relations.”

UPDATE – Turkey, Russia slam US decision on Golan Heights

UPDATES WITH MORE REMARKS FROM TURKISH FOREIGN MINISTER

By Diyar Guldogan

ANKARA (AA) – Turkey and Russia on Friday criticized the U.S. decision on Golan Heights, saying it was against international law.

"We definitely do not recognize such a decision and such a signature [of U.S. President Donald Trump] because it is against international law and UN resolutions. These are the territories of Syria," Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said at a news conference in the Mediterranean province of Antalya.

Cavusoglu's remarks came after the 7th Turkish-Russian Joint Strategic Planning Group Meeting, where the minister discussed bilateral relations as well as current regional and international developments with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov.

Cavusoglu said the U.S. decision did not contribute to regional peace and stability, adding: "On the contrary, it creates unrest and chaos in the region."

Lavrov, for his part, said Russia also did not recognize the decision, saying: "This is against international law. All kinds of international law was violated and broken."

On Monday, Trump signed a presidential proclamation officially recognizing Golan Heights as Israeli territory.

Israel occupies roughly two-thirds of the wider Golan Heights as a de facto result of the conflict. It moved to formally annex the territory in 1981 — an action unanimously rejected at the time by the UN Security Council.

Israel has long pushed Washington to recognize its claim over the territory it seized from Syria during the 1967 six-day war.

Turkey, Russia, China, Germany and others are already opposed to Washington’s most controversial move in recent years.

  • Bilateral ties

    Cavusoglu said Ankara was pleased with enhanced bilateral relations with Moscow, adding: “Our relations are improving in every area ranging from economy to culture. We realize very important projects.”

He also said Turkey and Russia not only develop bilateral relations but also strengthen cooperation on regional issues.

“It is not limited to Syria or some countries. We are in consultation with Russia on many areas, including Balkans and Central Asia," Cavusoglu said.

The minister also said Ankara expects Russia to remove the visa-ban on Turkish citizens.

"Our expectation is the complete removal of visa for our citizens. We discussed which steps we can take regarding this, and also we will together continue to work on this issue," Cavusoglu said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree to lift visa requirements for Turkish service passport holders and truck drivers traveling to Russia.

The new rules are also valid for Turkish citizens with special passports on short-term business trips, including those to diplomatic missions and consular offices, as well as professional drivers transporting international cargo.

Turkey, Peru to meet in Lima for political talks

             By Jeyhun Aliyev</p>    <p>ANKARA (AA) - Political discussions between Turkey and Peru will be held on Wednesday in Lima, Turkish Foreign Ministry said.</p>    <p>Besides bilateral relations, current regional and international issues are expected to be discussed during the talks, read a statement by the ministry.</p>    <p>Turkey’s Sedat Onal, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Manuel Gerardo Talavera Espinar, Acting Deputy Minister and Secretary General of Foreign Affairs of Peru, will chair the consultations. </p>    <p>Onal is also scheduled to meet with Nestor Popolizio, Foreign Minister of Peru, the statement added.</p>    <p>Last year, Turkish exports to Peru reached over $162.4 million, while imports were around $108.3 million, according to the Turkish Statistical Institute.

Turkish envoy holds several meetings in Iraq

            By Haydar Karaalp</p>  <p>BAGHDAD (AA) – Turkey’s Deputy Foreign Minister on Wednesday held meetings on bilateral relations and regional developments with Iraqi officials in Iraq's capital and in the northern city of Erbil.</p>  <p>Sedat Onal met the head of the Iraqi National Security Council (INSC) Falih Alfayyadh and Iraqi envoy for Foreign Affairs Nizar Hayrullah to talk about bilateral relations, according to a statement from the press office of the INSC.</p>  <p>Turkey’s Ambassador to Iraq Fatih Yildiz said on Twitter Onal’s meeting with Iraqi officials “aims to develop our relations with Iraq.”</p>  <p>Onal also met Iraqi parliament’s Turkmen bloc lawmakers in Turkey’s Baghdad embassy.</p>  <p>Apart from the Baghdad meetings, Onal met separately with the Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) Deputy Prime Minister Kubat Talabani and the Undersecretary of KRG Security Agency Mesrur Barzani in Erbil.</p>  <p>Onal also met the Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) Deputy Prime Minister Kubat Talabani and the Undersecretary of KRG Security Agency Mesrur Barzani in Erbil.</p>  <p> Onal and Barzani discussed regional developments, bilateral relations and the process of establishing a new government in the KRG, according to a statement from Mesrur Barzani's press office.</p>  <p>Barzani expressed his wish to develop better relations with Turkey in all areas.</p>  <p>Onal and Talabani discussed the recent situation of disputed regions in Iraq and relations between Erbil and Baghdad, according to a statement from the website of the Prime Ministry of the KRG.</p>  <p>Talabani pointed out that KRG wants Turkish investors to play a greater role in the KRG.</p>  <p>* Writing by Gozde Bayar</p>  <p> 

EU-Turkey meeting to be held in Brussels

                By Yusuf Hatip</p>    <p>BRUSSELS (AA) - The EU-Turkey Association Council meeting will be held in Brussels on March 15, according to diplomatic sources on Tuesday.</p>    <p>The meeting of Association Council -- the highest decision-making body between Turkey and the EU -- will take place after an interval of almost four years.</p>    <p>The meeting, which is important for the continuation and diversification of the institutional dialogue with the EU, will be co-chaired by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.</p>    <p>Johannes Hahn,  the EU’s Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, is also expected to attend the meeting.</p>    <p>The regional issues and bilateral relations are expected to be extensively evaluated in the meeting.</p>    <p>In this context, issues such as visa liberalization, updates on the Customs Union, the point reached in the EU accession process and the cooperation in the fight against terrorism are also expected to be addressed. </p>    <p>The 53rd meeting of the EU-Turkey Association Council was held on May 18, 2015, in Brussels.</p>    <p>The Turkey-EU Association Council was established in accordance with the Ankara Agreement, which entered into force on Dec. 1, 1964.</p>    <p>Turkey applied for EU membership in 1987 and accession talks began in 2005.</p>    <p>However, negotiations stalled in 2007 due to the objections of the Greek Cypriot administration on the divided island of Cyprus, as well as opposition from Germany and France.

Russian ambassador hails bilateral ties with Turkey

By Deniz Acik
ESKISEHIR, Turkey (AA) – The Russian ambassador to Ankara on Monday said that bilateral ties had significantly improved in recent years.
"The bilateral relations of Turkey and Russia are about to reach its peak, our relations are on the rise," said Aleksey Yerhov, following a meeting with the governor of central Eskisehir province.

Underlining that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin frequently gathered and held fruitful meetings, he added that both presidents had set a fine example to improve cooperation and collaboration.
Governor Ozdemir Cakacak said that Turkey-Russia relations dated back to centuries and both countries had deep cooperation both on the regional and international level.
He noted that this was visible in resolving the Syrian crisis, setting up the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant and TurkStream gas pipeline in Turkey, and the purchase of Russian S-400 missile system.

'Political will exists to boost Turkey, Argentina ties'

             By Muhammed Emin Canik</p>    <p>BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AA) - There is a political will between Turkey and Argentina to boost the bilateral relations, said Turkey's new ambassador to Argentina.</p>    <p>&quot;There exist a mutual political will to further enhance the relations between Turkey and Argentina in all areas,&quot; Sefik Vural Altay told Anadolu Agency.</p>    <p>Altay presented his letter of credentials to Argentina's President Mauricio Macri on Jan. 18. </p>    <p>&quot;The brief meeting that I had with Macri was very positive. We discussed how we can improve the relations between the two countries mutually,&quot; he said.</p>    <p>The ambassador said there was a growing interest in Argentina towards Turkey.</p>    <p>&quot;Both Argentina and Turkey are really important countries for their regions. They are regional powers. That is why we have many similarities,&quot; he added.</p>    <p>Altay said he will work to enhance the bilateral relations during his term.</p>    <p>Also stressing that it is significant to boost economic ties, he said: &quot;It is important for the two countries to invest mutually and to focus on the projects that will bind the two countries.&quot;</p>  <p> </p>    <p>- Turkey aims to end FETO presence in Argentina</p>    <p>Altay said Turkey aims to end the presence of the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), the group behind the 2016 defeated coup attempt in Turkey, in Argentina.

"They [FETO] have here a primary school, a foundation and two centers in Argentina. However, we frequently bring up this issue during our talks with Argentinian authorities. We clearly stress that these networks can not represent Turkey," he added.

FETO and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup on July 15, 2016, which left 251 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.

Ankara also accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary.

Turkish FM, Libyan officials discuss bilateral ties

By Faruk Zorlu

ANKARA (AA) – Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and the head of Libya’s High Council of State on Saturday discussed bilateral relations.

Cavusoglu met Khalid Al-Mishri in the Libyan capital of Tripoli to discuss ways to improve economic and commercial relations, Turkey's top diplomat said in a tweet.

Cavusoglu also shared the expectations of Turkish companies, it added.

Turkish FM also met his Libyan counterpart Mohamed Taher Siala and Fayez Sarraj, chairman of the Presidency Council and prime minister of the Government of National Accord of Libya.

Cavusoglu arrived on a one-day official visit to Libya on Saturday.

Turkish FM to visit Libya for official talks

By Nilay Kar Onum

ISTANBUL (AA) – Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu is to pay a one-day official visit to Libya on Saturday.

In a written statement, the Foreign Ministry said Friday day that Cavusoglu's visit will come upon the invitation of his Libyan counterpart Mohamed Taher Siyala.

“On the occasion of the visit, alongside his Libyan counterpart, Cavusoglu will meet with Ahmed Maiteeg, deputy president of the Presidency Council and Khalid Al Meshri, president of the High State Council,” it said.

He will also be received by Fayez Sarraj, President of the Presidency Council and the Government of National Accord of Libya, the ministry said.

During the meetings, all aspects of Turkish-Libyan bilateral relations as well as recent regional and international developments will be discussed, it added.