ANKARA: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan is holding talks with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir, at the Black Sea resort of Sochi on Tuesday, hours before a ceasefire between Turkish and Kurdish forces in northern Syria is set to expire.
Putin and Erdogan’s talks will focus on “normalising the situation” in northeast Syria, according to the Kremlin.
There has been relative calm in northeast Syria since Turkey agreed on Thursday to a 120-hour pause in hostilities to allow Kurdish-led fighters Ankara considers “terrorists” to withdraw from the border area.
The United States-brokered truce is set to expire at 19:00 GMT on Tuesday.
“The situation in the region is very severe,” Putin told Erdogan as talks began in Sochi. He added that the good rapport between Russia and Turkey, which back opposing sides in Syria’s war, “will let us find an answer to even the most difficult questions”.
Turkey launched its offensive in northeast Syria, dubbed Operation Peace Spring on October 9, aiming to create a “safe-zone” cleared of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG). Ankara considers the YPG an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which waged an armed struggle for autonomy against the Turkish state for decades.
Ankara also wants to resettle some of the 3.6million refugees it currently hosts inside the so-called “safe zone”.
Before departing for talks with Putin, Erdogan told reporters that Ankara would resume the military offensive in Syria unless the Kurdish fighters withdrew from the area.