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Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan during a meeting in Moscow, Russia March 5, 2020 - Sputnik International

Live Updates: Putin and Erdogan Hold Talks on Situation in Syria's Idlib

Ankara launched "Operation Spring Shield" last week after Syrian Army attacks on terrorist positions killed several Turkish troops in Idlib. According to Moscow, the Turkish soldiers were operating amongst al-Nusra* militants. Turkey later claimed its army had "neutralised" up to 300 Syrian soldiers and multiple military vehicles in response.

Russian President Vladimir Putin holds talks with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan amid escalating tensions in Idlib, where Turkish forces have recently clashed with the Syrian Army.

Erdogan previously said he had asked Putin to "step aside" in Syria and allow him to deal with Damascus "face to face", while Syrian President Bashar Assad stated in an interview just one day before the Putin-Erdogan meeting that the conflict between the Turkish people and the Syrian people is "illogical".

Moscow earlier stated that Ankara had failed to fulfil its commitments under the 2018 Sochi Memorandum, which stipulated demilitarisation in northern Syria. According to the agreement, Turkey was obliged to secure its border with Syria and separate jihadists in Idlib from other armed anti-government factions willing to engage in negotiations with the Syrian government.

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*Jabhat al-Nusra (also known as Jabhat al-Nusra, Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, or al-Qaeda in Syria) is a terrorist organisation banned in Russia

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17:25 GMT 05.03.2020
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14:36 GMT 05.03.2020

The two meeting of the two leaders, expected to focus on tensions in Syria's Idlib, started at 14:06 Moscow time (11:06 GMT) in the Kremlin.

"They talked for three hours. They have been communicating together with delegations for 30 minutes already", Peskov said.

13:23 GMT 05.03.2020

The Russian and Turkish presidents are continuing their talks behind closed doors in the Kremlin. They are expected to negotiate a decision on Syria that is acceptable to both sides and then invite members of their delegations when needed.

11:34 GMT 05.03.2020
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"Thank you very much for agreeing to come to us. We always have issues to discuss, and now the situation in the well-known area of Idlib in Syria has escalated so much that it, undoubtedly, requires our direct face-to-face dialogue", Putin told Erdogan at the beginning of their talks.

The Russian president also expressed condolences to Erdogan over the death of Turkish soldiers in Syria.

"At the beginning of our meeting, I would like to once again express my sincere condolences over the death of your servicemen in Syria. Unfortunately, as I have already told you during our phone call, nobody, including Syrian troops, had known their whereabouts", Putin said,

The Russian leader added that the Syrian side had also suffered serious losses recently.

"That is why we need to discuss everything, the current situation so that, first, nothing like this can ever happen again and, second, so that it does not damage the Russia-Turkey relations, which we and you too, I know, take very seriously and value", he noted.

11:07 GMT 05.03.2020
10:26 GMT 05.03.2020

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has arrived in the Russian capital for a meeting with Vladimir Putin over the situation in Idlib, where the Turkish Army has in recent months been clashing with the Syrian military. The Turkish delegation also includes Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, Defence Minister Hulusi Akar, and other high-ranking officials.

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