Erdogan says officials to meet to 'finalise' Russia defence deal


Ankara (AFP)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Monday that Turkish and Russian officials would meet in the coming days to finalise the deal for Russia to supply its latest S-400 air-defence system to Ankara.

"Officials will come together in the coming week to finalise the necessary work on the S-400 issue I wish them success," Erdogan said during a press conference with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Ankara. He did not give further details.

"In the course of today's work we finally agreed a credit agreement which I hope, and I emphasise this, will be signed in the nearest time," Putin said, but at no point did he mention the S-400 deal directly.

"We see a considerable perspective to widen cooperation in the military technical sphere," he added during his visit to Ankara.

The purchase of the surface-to-air missile defence batteries, Ankara's most significant deal with a non-NATO supplier, comes with Turkey in the throes of a crisis in relations with several Western states.

There are also worries in the West, including in the US, over the missile system's technical compatibility with the alliance's equipment.

The Pentagon previously said that "generally it's a good idea" for NATO allies to buy inter-operable equipment.

Putin was in Ankara after a sprint across the Middle East and North Africa region.

He began with a surprise first visit to Syria to meet President Bashar al-Assad at a Russian airbase before meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, two of Ankara's prime foes in recent years.

Then he arrived in Ankara for talks with Erdogan for the two leaders' eighth meeting this year, during which they discussed the over six-year Syrian conflict and energy matters.