11 Oct 2016 – By Scott Lucas – eaworldview – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has hosted Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin for talks on Syria, as the two countries signed an agreement for the construction of a major undersea gas pipeline.Putin’s visit is another sign of reconciliation following a rift over last November’s Turkish downing of a Russian warplane near the Turkish-Syrian border. Following Erdoğan’s journey to Moscow in early August, there was widespread speculation of a deal to allow both a Turkey military intervention alongside rebels in northern Syria three weeks later, and continued Russian bombing of opposition territory alongside a pro-Assad offensive to besiege and try to overrun opposition-held areas in Aleppo city.

“Today has been a full day with President Putin of discussing Russia-Turkish relations….I have full confidence that the normalization of Turkish-Russian ties will continue at a fast pace,” Erdoğan told a joint news conference on Monday.

The two leaders said they had agreed on the importance of delivering aid to Aleppo, whose opposition-held eastern sector has been encircled by Russian-backed Syrian forces for all but a short period since July.

“We have a common position that everything must be done to deliver humanitarian aid to Aleppo. The only issue is….ensuring the safety of aid delivery,” Putin said.

The statement helped offset pressure on Russia over its renewal of bombing of Syria’s largest city, beginning with the destruction of a UN aid convoy on September 19, hours after the Syrian military declared an end to the “freeze on hostilities” under a seven-day ceasefire arranged by the US and Moscow.The Russians have been castigated by the US and European powers in the UN Security Council for airstrikes amounting to complicity in “war crimes” by the Assad regime, as more than 500 people were killed in two weeks. Moscow was forced to veto a Franco-Spanish resolution on Friday calling for a ceasefire, security for humanitarian aid, and suspension of military flights over the area.

Deal to Boost Russian Energy Plans

Beyond Syria, the highlight of the meeting was the signature of the deal on the TurkStream undersea gas pipeline, allowing Moscow to strengthen its position in the European gas market and cut energy supplies via Ukraine.The plan for TurkStream was promoted after Russia set aside plans to build the South Stream pipeline to Bulgaria due to opposition from the European Union.Erdoğan also said plans for a Russian-built nuclear power plant in Turkey would be accelerated, while Putin said Moscow had decided to lift a ban on some food products from Ankara.