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Ivanov due in Turkey to discuss defense cooperation

   
InternationalRussian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov will pay a separate working visit to Turkey early next month, when Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to hold talks with Turkish leaders in Ankara, in order to boost military and defense cooperation between the two countries.

The Russian minister was to come to Turkey at the invitation of his Turkish counterpart, Vecdi Gonul, and he was also scheduled to meet Chief of General Staff Gen. Hilmi Ozkok during his two-day trip on Sept. 2-3, Turkish officials told the Turkish Daily News.

The two sides will discuss ways to increase military cooperation, the Anatolia news agency said, quoting a statement issued by the Russian Defense Ministry in Moscow.

"Furthermore, the two parts will take up the preparations for an agreement aimed at preventing accidents in territorial waters along with implementation of the exchange of Russian and Turkish troops," the statement said.

Ivanov was expected to raise a number of issues, including the handing over of Russian weapons, military equipment and ammunition to Turkey and the joint licensed manufacture of Russian-Israeli joint-production Ka-50-2 Erdogan attack helicopters as well as the export of those items to third countries, it said.

During his talks, regional and international security matters ranging from the fight against terrorism to the implementation of the Conventional Forces of Europe (CFE) Treaty as well as recent developments in the Caucasus, Iraq and Afghanistan will be discussed, the statement said.

Although Ivonov will pay a separate visit, he could also accompany Russian leader Putin during his visit to Ankara, Turkish officials said.

Putin will be the first Russian head of state to visit Turkey in 32 years, and his talks are expected to cement the positive atmosphere pervading the ties for the last decade.

The traditional suspicion and mistrust that governed relations throughout the Cold War years and immediate post-Cold War period has significantly subsided since the late 1990s, after Turkey became one of the major buyers of Russian gas and trade volume grew significantly, with officials expecting the volume to reach $9 billion by the end of 2004.