Russian, Turkish foreign ministers to meet on Feb.16

Sat 15 Feb 2020 07:34 GMT | 11:34 Local Time

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A meeting of Russian and Turkish foreign ministers is planned on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference on Feb.16, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Friday, Anadolu Agency reported.

"The meeting [of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu] has been planned for Sunday," a source in the ministry told reporters in Moscow.

In a separate statement, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia and Turkey are in touch on different levels over the situation in the northern Syrian province of Idlib.

"Our presidents [Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan] are in touch, they had a telephone conversation this week [on Feb. 12], our militaries are in touch, and there is an exchange of delegations at the expert level," he said.

In September 2018, Turkey and Russia agreed to turn Idlib into a de-escalation zone in which acts of aggression are expressly prohibited.

But more than 1,800 civilians have been killed in attacks by regime and Russian forces since then, flouting both the 2018 cease-fire and a new one that started on Jan. 12.

Syrian regime attacks in recent weeks on Turkish troops stationed in Idlib has further sparked tensions in the region.

On Monday, five Turkish troops were martyred and five injured in an attack by Assad regime forces in Idlib, following a similar attack last week martyring seven soldiers and a civilian contractor working with the Turkish military.

The Turkish troops are in Idlib -- nominally a cease-fire zone, under a deal between Turkey and Russia -- as part of an anti-terror and peace mission.

Turkey has since retaliated for both attacks, hitting scores of targets and neutralizing over 200 Assad regime troops.

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