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Putin hails normalization of ties in letter to Erdogan

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has written to his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the occasion of the New Year, lauding normalization of bilateral ties over the past year.

Putin wrote the letter Saturday, stressing that the two sides had not only succeeded in putting their bilateral ties back on track over the past year, but also achieved significant progress in boosting cooperation in many areas, Turkey’s Daily Sabah reported.

The relations hit their lowest ebb on November 24, 2015, when a Turkish warplane shot down a Russian one near the Syria–Turkey border. The pilot lost his life in the crash, while Syrian government forces rescued the Russian navigator, who had been on board.

In June 2016, however, Turkey and Russia put an end to seven months of strained relations after Erdogan “apologized” in a letter to Putin over the downing of the Sukhoi Su-24. Since then, the two leaders have met on eight occasions.

Putin’s Saturday message said that “by working closely together our countries have succeeded in preventing the terrorist threat from spreading further across the Middle East and created conditions for launching the political settlement of the Syrian conflict.”

Alongside Iran, the two countries have been working towards resolving the crisis in Syria.

The cooperation led to the liberation of Syria’s second city of Aleppo late last year, establishment of a ceasefire over the city, which was later expanded to entire Syria, and designation of de-escalation zones in the Arab country.

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