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Russia, Turkey sign strategic cooperation protocol

People�s Daily Online (Link) - Xinhua (January 21, 2011)

Russia and Turkey signed here Thursday a strategic cooperation protocol in a bid to enhance their bilateral relations.

The protocol was signed by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu in Ciragan Palace, Istanbul.

However, the two sides did not reveal any detail of the strategic protocol.

Sergei Lavrov arrived in Istanbul on Wednesday for a two-day visit to participate in a meeting of a high-level cooperation council between Russia and Turkey.

The two ministers met at the first meeting of the Turkish-Russian Joint Strategic Planning Group, which carries out preparatory work ahead of the High-Level Cooperation Council meeting scheduled to be held in Moscow in March.

The meeting, to be held in March, will also include Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and discuss not just bilateral matters but also regional and global developments, particularly in the Balkans and the Middle East.

One particular issue to be discussed in March is the lifting of visas.

Davutoglu said he hoped the agreement to lift visas would be signed in the upcoming meeting. Lavrov added that they would be making an announcement about the matter �soon.�

Lavrov also said both countries would discuss manners to increase trade volume and that all means were available to bring trade up to 100 billion U.S. dollars.

These meetings will become an annual institution, said Davutoglu, adding �both countries now enjoy the best relations we�ve ever had since the end of the Cold War.�

The High-Level Cooperation Council between Russia and Turkey is an intergovernmental cooperation mechanism that lays the foundation for the strategic partnership of the two countries.

Russian-Turkish ties have predominantly expanded on an economic basis, especially with energy deals. Projects in the energy sector such as Samsun-Ceyhan, South Stream and Nabucco will also be on the agenda of the preparatory talks.

Turkey receives 70 percent of its energy resources, including gas and oil, from Russia. Turkey will also put into operation its first nuclear power plant with the cooperation of Russia. �