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'Russia, Turkey Work on 'Constructive Atmosphere' for Syria Talks Despite Murder'

Despite Monday's murder of Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrey Karlov, Moscow and Ankara will continue to develop bilateral ties; these have already added greatly to improving the situation in Aleppo, Oktay Aksoy, former Turkish Ambassador to Finland, Sweden and Jordan, told Sputnik Turkey.

In an interview with Sputnik Turkey, Oktay Aksoy, former Turkish Ambassador to Finland, Sweden and Jordan, said that Russian-Turkish cooperation has contributed considerably to bringing an end to the conflict in Aleppo.

The interview came amid reports that Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrey Karlov was murdered by a gunman while visiting an art gallery in Ankara, in what the Russian Foreign Ministry has described as a terrorist attack. During a phone conversation on Monday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan briefed Russia's President Vladimir Putin on the details of the shooting of Andrey Karlov.

In a separate telephone conversation late last week, the two presidents discussed the situation in Syria, focusing on the issues related to the peaceful evacuation of the last Islamist militant-held enclave within the city of Aleppo.

The two leaders also discussed using Astana, Kazakhstan as a venue for hosting peace talks between Syria's government and the opposition. Putin and Erdogan noted the high level of Russia-Turkey interaction in promoting the Syrian settlement and agreed to continue maintaining close contact on this issue. Commenting on the matter, Oktay Aksoy remained optimistic about the upcoming results of the Astana talks. "Europe, which has been hit hard by the Syrian crisis, does not always make reasonable decisions. Perhaps holding the intra-Syrian talks in Astana, far away from migration crisis-hit Europe, could yield positive results. Let's wait and see," he said. In this vein, it is safe to assume that the talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan will "certainly be useful" in terms of resolving the Syrian crisis, according to Aksoy. "It is previous talks between these two leaders which added significantly to solving the Syrian deadlock. The ceasefire in Aleppo became possible as a result of the highest level contact between Russia and Turkey. So there is every reason to believe that the Astana talks will also be held in a constructive atmosphere and that relevant decisions will be made to finally settle the situation," he said. The assassination of Andrey Karlov took place just one day before leaders from Russia, Iran, and Turkey were scheduled to convene for a meeting in Moscow. The countries' foreign officials and defense ministers planned to discuss the situation in Aleppo and the future of Syria.

It was reported that despite Karlov's murder, the meeting in Moscow will still take place on Tuesday. The Turkish Foreign Minister received news of the lethal shooting while en route to the meeting. All sides agreed to move forward with the round table discussion despite the tragic death of Andrey Karlov.

Relations between Moscow and Turkey became strained after a Russian warplane was gunned down by Turkish military forces in November 2015, but tensions eased after President Erdogan apologized to President Putin in June 2016.

Source: Sputnik

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