Erdogan, Putin discuss ties in phone call

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan held a phone call on Friday with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin about improving bilateral ties and he repeated Ankara’s willingness to do its part to peacefully resolve the war in Ukraine, Erdogan’s office said. 

The latest developments in Ukraine, which Russia invaded earlier this year, were also discussed in the call, according to Turkey’s Directorate of Communications.
NATO member Turkey has close relations with both Ukraine and Russia and has sought to balance ties during the war, rejecting Western sanctions on Moscow while criticising the Russian invasion and supplying Kyiv with armed drones.
Along with the United Nations, Turkey brokered the July deal to unlock Ukrainian grain exports from its Black Sea ports, in what remains the only significant diplomatic breakthrough in the seven-month-old conflict, according to Reuters.
Meanwhile Erdogan on Thursday hinted at the possibility of meeting Syrian counterpart Bashar Assad in the future, confirming Ankara’s tentative steps to restore ties with the neighbouring war-torn country despite backing rebel groups in Syria's civil war.
Despite the meeting not being on his agenda," I cannot say it is impossible for me," BBC Turkish cited Erdogan as telling reporters in Prague, where he was attendance for the first meeting of the newly established European Political Community, on the prospect of a meeting with Asad.
"When the right time comes, we can also go to the way of meeting with the president of Syria, the Turkish president added.
Turkish officials earlier this year began voicing the possibility of starting dialogue with Damascus to address a string of issues, including a political solution to the Syrian civil war that is in its 12th year and the Syrian refugee crisis.
Turkey, which supports Syria's opposition forces, has since 2016 launched four cross-border operations into northern Syria targeting Kurdish forces linked to an insurgency on its own soil and to prevent the formation of what it calls a terror corridor. The country controls swaths of territory in northern Syria with allied Syrian rebels after carrying out the incursions.
Damascus has listed the withdrawal of Turkish forces from Syria and the end of Turkey’s support for groups designated as "terrorists" by the Asad regime as preconditions to political dialogue with Ankara.
Meanwhile, Erdogan on Saturday vowed that a million Syrian refugees would soon return to their country on a voluntary basis
"Since the start of our cross-border operations in Syria [in 2016], around 526,000 volunteers have returned to the safe zones that we established," TRT network cited the Turkish president as saying in a speech to the Turkish Parliament.
Turkey is home to some 3.7 Syrian migrants, the largest in the world, which arrived following the civil war in Syria in 2011. The demographic has been faced with a wave of xenophobia in Turkey, with anti-refugee sentiment being bolstered by the country’s high unemployment rate and ailing economy.
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