Putin To Visit Turkey And Egypt Amid Anger Over Trump’s Jerusalem Move

Russian President Vladimir Putin, already scheduled to visit Egypt on December 11, will travel to Turkey on the same day for talks with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Putin and Erdogan plan to discuss bilateral issues, including joint energy projects, as well as the conflict in Syria and the broader situation in the Middle East, the Kremlin said.

The Reuters news agency cited unnamed sources close to Erdogan as saying the talks would address developments in Jerusalem — a reference to the tensions and unrest following U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

In announcing Putin’s visit to Egypt, the Kremlin said on December 7 that he and President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi would discuss stability and security in the Middle East among other things.

Egypt, Turkey, and Russia have all denounced Trump’s decision. Putin and Erdogan voiced “serious concern” about it in a phone conversation on December 7, the Kremlin said.

Russia’s major role in the war in Syria, where it has given President Bashar al-Assad’s government crucial military backing, has increased its influence in the Middle East.

Putin has courted closer ties with Egypt and NATO-member Turkey as well as other countries in the region in recent years.

Russia and Turkey back different sides in the Syria war and their relations were severely strained after Turkish jets shot a Russian warplane down near the Turkish-Syrian border in 2015.

But Putin and Erdogan say they have patched things up, and the upcoming meeting will be their third in as many months. Meeting in Ankara in September, they said they wanted to see progress on the TurkStream gas pipeline from Russia to Turkey and the Akkuyu nuclear power plant, which is being built in Turkey with Russian collaboration.

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Putin has had warm relations with Sisi, but Russia suspended commercial flights to Egypt after a passenger plane carrying Russian vacationers back home from a Red Sea breach resort blew up over the Sinai Peninsula in October 2015, killing all 224 people on board. An affiliate of the extremist group Islamic State (IS) based in Sinai claimed responsibility.

Russian and Egyptian officials have held talks on boosting airport security and resuming air travel, but no deal has been reached so far.

The Russian government said in September that Moscow and Cairo had drafted an agreement to allow each country’s military to use the other’s air bases.

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