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Putin sends ministers to Turkey amid clash over Syria, Libya

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Russia, Putin, Vladimir Putin, Syria, Libya
Image Courtesy: AP

Top Russian ministers will visit Turkey on Sunday as opposing policies in Syria and Libya threaten the alliance between the former Cold War foes.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu will lead the delegation, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said. “The delegations are expected to have consultations and to discuss coordination on regional issues,” according to a statement.

The visit follows a June 10 phone call between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, that centered on the situation in Libya and a fragile cease-fire in Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib, bordering Turkey.

Turkey and Russia back opposing sides in the civil wars raging in Syria and Libya. Ankara is providing military and diplomatic support to Libya’s United Nations-recognized administration, while Russia backs rival militia commander Khalifa Haftar. In Syria, the Russian-backed government aims to retake Idlib from Islamist militants, while Turkey has vowed to never let that happen.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif will also be in Turkey June 14-15, according to a separate statement. “During the visit, all aspects of our bilateral relations will be discussed and views on regional and international issues will be exchanged,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said.

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