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Turkish, Russian Presidents to Meet in Sochi, Discuss Syria


FILE - Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during their meeting at the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, Nov. 13, 2017.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will meet with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin Monday in the Russian resort city of Sochi, senior Turkish officials said.

The meeting comes as the international community has raised concerns over a potential Syrian government offensive in Idlib province, bordering Turkey, the last stronghold of the armed opposition to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Speaking at a televised news conference Friday, Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that his country is ready to cooperate with anyone in fighting terrorist organizations in Idlib, but added that the killing of civilians, women and children under the pretext of fighting terrorism is not human.

Turkey fears that a large-scale offensive against Idlib will cause a new influx of refugees into its territory, where more than 3 million Syrians have already taken refuge.

Erdogan and Putin met last week at a summit on Syria organized by their Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani in Tehran.

Erdogan pushed unsuccessfully for declaring a cease-fire in Idlib province, where Damascus regime forces were stationed for several days, ready to launch an offensive.

Russia and Iran are key allies of al-Assad's regime. Turkey, however, backs opposition fighters seeking the ouster of the Syrian leader.

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