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Erdogan hosts Putin to tighten Turkey-Russia alliance
The talks are expected to focus on energy cooperation - with Ankara seeking not only a reduction in gas prices from Russia but also greater import volumes ahead of the winter - as well as key diplomatic issues. Russia and Turkey appear so far to have successfully shielded their strong relations from potentially damaging disputes over the crises in Syria and Ukraine. Ankara - a strong supporter of the territorial integrity of states due to its own battle with Kurdish separatists - opposed Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine this year. These disputes appear not to have harmed other aspects of cooperation, with more than four million Russian tourists visiting Turkey annually and Russia building Turkey's first nuclear power plant in a $20 billion project. "Turkey-Russia relations remain stable, maintaining continuity and not depending on the current situation," Putin said in an interview with Turkey's Anatolia news agency ahead of his visit. Turkey - the second largest European importer of Russian gas after Germany - wants cheaper but more gas from Russia especially in the current winter season. Energy Minister Taner Yildiz noted on a visit to Moscow last week that in some Turkish regions 22 times more gas is needed in winter than in summer. Gazprom had promised to increase deliveries this year to Turkey to 30 billion cubic metres of gas, up from 26.7 billion last year.

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