Putin praises Erdogan ahead of key polls

Russian leader Vladimir Putin on Thursday praised Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s leadership ahead of a key election in the NATO country.

“The president personally pays great attention to the expansion of Russian-Turkish relations,” Putin said at the launch of a Russian-built nuclear plant in Turkey, adding that: “we certainly support this inclination and are convinced that close cooperation and partnership between Russia and Turkey are mutually beneficial.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan held talks by telephone on Thursday, their offices said, before the two countries marked the inauguration of Turkey’s first nuclear power reactor.

The Akkuyu nuclear power plant in Turkey’s southern Mersin province has been built by Russia’s state nuclear energy company Rosatom.

Erdogan thanked Putin during their call for his help on the power plant, the Turkish leader’s office said. They also discussed the Black Sea grain initiative and the situation in Ukraine, it said. Putin said they agreed to deepen economic, trade and agricultural cooperation.

Both presidents took part virtually in a ceremony marking the loading of nuclear fuel into the first power unit at Akkuyu.

The $20 billion, 4,800 megawatt (MW) project to build four reactors in the Mediterranean town of Akkuyu will allow Turkey to join the small club of nations with civil nuclear energy.

“We plan to complete the physical launch (of the plant) next year… in order to be able to produce electricity on a steady basis from 2025, as we agreed,” said Andrei Likhachev, head of Rosatom.

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