ADDS TURKISH DEFENSE MINISTRY'S STATEMENT

By Sarp Ozer and Elena Teslova

ANKARA / MOSCOW (AA) – Turkey's National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar on Monday met his Russian counterpart Sergey Shoigu in the Turkish capital Ankara.

Akar and Shoigu chaired talks with delegations at the Defense Ministry.

The Turkish minister expressed his pleasure at hosting Shoigu.

"Turkey is talking with Russia at all levels to restore peace and stability in the region and protect interests of both countries," Akar said.

He also said that efforts to boost bilateral relations are "valuable" and will contribute to peace and regional stability.

"Beyond that, I believe that this will indeed contribute to world peace," Akar added.

The meetings in Ankara will be preliminary work of the planned summit on Syria between the leaders of Turkey, Russia and Iran in the Russian coastal city of Sochi on Thursday, Akar added.

At the fourth meeting in the Astana format, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Vladimir Putin and Hassan Rouhani will concentrate on the long-term settlement of the Syrian crisis.

Shoigu thanked Akar for the warm reception and recalled that military experts from both sides met in Moscow earlier this month to talk about "the most important issues for the Syrian settlement regarding further stabilization in the Idlib zone and everything that concerns the eastern bank of the Euphrates".

"I hope that today, we will be able to come to an agreement on the key issues," Shoigu said.

The Turkish Defense Ministry said in a statement that the two sides discussed the latest situation in Syria during their meeting, including measures to ensure security in the demilitarized zone in Idlib despite provocations.

Turkey and Russia also agreed on intelligence and military cooperation to ensure peace and security.

It added that the ministers have mutual understanding of Turkey's security concerns regarding PKK/YPG and Daesh terrorist organizations in east of the Euphrates River.

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