Turkey has called on Russia to carry out joint operations in Syria against the Islamic State (ISIS) group, after crucial talks between President Vladimir Putin and Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan aimed at ending a crisis in ties.
The comments by Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu came as a Turkish delegation was in Russia for talks aimed at coordinating actions on Syria and other bilateral issues.
“We will discuss all the details. We have always called on Russia to carry out anti-ISIS operations together,” Cavusoglu said in a live interview on Thursday with the private NTV television, adding that the proposal was still “on the table”.
Cavusoglu urged Russia to fight against the “common enemy” of ISIS fighters in Syria.
“Let’s fight against the terrorist group together, so that we can clear it out as soon as possible,” the minister said, warning otherwise that the group would keep on expanding and spread into other countries.
Erdogan visited Russia’s second city of Saint Petersburg on Tuesday – his first trip abroad since the July 15 coup attempt.
It was also his first direct meeting with Putin since the shooting-down of a Russian fighter jet by Turkish air forces on the Syrian border in November that caused unprecedented damage to relations.
NATO member Turkey was long criticised by its Western partners for not playing a full role in the fight against ISIS but upped its involvement last year by offering US forces use of an airbase near the Syrian border for raids against the group.
Turkey has also carried out air and artillery strikes against ISIS of its own, although it is believed to have halted the operations in the wake of the Russian plane incident.
The three-person Turkish delegation in Moscow, made up of representatives from the military, intelligence and foreign service, is tasked with implementing decisions made at Tuesday’s summit, Cavusoglu said.
“I believe the mechanism will contribute to this process,” he added.
Cavusoglu said close cooperation between Turkey and Russia would help prevent incidents in the future like the plane crisis.
“Many countries are engaged in Syria actively. There could be mistakes,” he said.
“In order to prevent that, we need to put into practice the solidarity and cooperation (mechanism) between us including sharing of real time intelligence.”
Cavusoglu also said real time communication was also needed between the two presidents and the military officials of the two countries.