Erdogan, Putin discuss grain deal, Syrian security

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin discussed Turkey-Russia relations, including the exports through the Black Sea grain corridor and the fight against terrorism along the Turkish-Syrian border, Turkey’s presidency said in a statement.

Erdogan told Putin in a phone call that the grain deal ensured over 13 million ton of grain reaching those in need, noting that they could start “working on the export of different food products and gradually other commodities through the grain corridor,” according to the statement on Sunday.

On July 22, Russia and Ukraine separately signed a document in Istanbul with Turkey and the UN to ensure grain and fertiliser supplies to the global market amid the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Xinhua news agency reported.

Ankara says it has been making efforts to pave the way for the resumption of Russian grain and fertiliser export to world markets as well.

The Turkish President also elaborated on the recent tension between Turkish security forces and the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and urged Russia to implement a 2019 deal that envisages the withdrawal of Syrian Kurdish fighters 30 km from the Turkish border with Syria.

On October 22, 2019, Erdogan and Putin held a meeting in Sochi, Russia, agreeing on the pullout of the YPG fighters to 30 km south of Turkey’s border and the launch of joint patrols between Turkish and Russian soldiers.

Turkey carried out an aerial operation on November 20 against the YPG in northern Syria and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in northern Iraq after a bomb explosion in Turkey’s largest city Istanbul on November 13 that killed six people and injured another 81.

After the attack, Turkish police said they had detained a Syrian woman named Ahlam Albashir, who admitted to taking orders from the YPG, which Ankara considered to be the Syrian branch of the PKK.

Turkey will launch a ground operation into northern Syria “at the most convenient time” to build a security strip, Erdogan has vowed several times in the past weeks.

The PKK, listed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the US and the EU, has rebelled against the Turkish government for more than three decades.

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