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RUSSIA, TURKEY AGREE TO BUILD SYRIA MECHANISM

ANKARA, -- Turkey and Russia have agreed to build a mechanism on Syria which includes officials from the intelligence services, foreign ministries and armed forces, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said.

In an interview with Anadolu Agency, Cavusoglu said the first bilateral meeting of this mechanism will be held in St. Petersburg Thursday.

The formation of the mechanism, which is at the ministerial level, was agreed during President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg, he said.

"We are building a strong mechanism with Russia regarding Syria," Cavusoglu said. "We think alike on the cease-fire, humanitarian aid and a political solution."

Turkish National Intelligence Organization (MIT) Chief Hakan Fidan and representatives form Turkey's Foreign Ministry and the Turkish Armed Forces departed for Russia late Wednesday, according to the foreign minister.

He said the pilots involved in the downing of a Russian jet on Nov. 24, 2015, which led to a crisis in bilateral ties, are in custody for their ties with the so-called Gulen Terrorist Organization, a reference to U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen.

Turkey accuses Gulen of masterminding a July 15 coup attempt and has called for his extradition from the United States.

Regarding the long-awaited missile defense system, Cavusoglu said that Turkey first sought cooperation with NATO countries; however, so far the results were unsatisfactory.

"Therefore, it is normal for us to seek other alternatives," he added, referring to Turkish and Russian presidents deciding to increase cooperation on defense.

"But we don't perceive this as a step against NATO. We need to set up our own defense system and develop our own technology in cooperation with other countries," Cavusoglu said.

The shooting down of the Russian jet led to a freeze in relations of the two countries, including economic sanctions and a bar on Russian tourism to Turkey, which thawed in June after Erdogan wrote to his counterpart and the two later spoke by telephone.

Putin gave his support to Turkey over the coup attempt and said he stood by the elected government, offering his condolences to the victims of the coup attempt.

Source: Name News Network