By Zuhal Demirci
Ankara agrees with Russia in principle on its lifting of visas for businessmen, truck drivers and service passport holders, Turkey’s Foreign Minister said Wednesday.
Speaking at a dinner on the sidelines of the 10th Ambassadors' Conference in the Turkish capital, Mevlut Cavusoglu said he had discussions Tuesday with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov on the lifting of visas for Turkish citizens and also exchanged views on Syria and Idlib.
"Of course our desire is the total lifting of visas," Cavusoglu said.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry said Sunday in a statement that Moscow is "willing" to lift the visa regime in some categories for Turkish citizens.
Following Turkey’s shooting down of an intruding Russian military jet over the Turkey-Syria border in November 2015, Russia imposed a range of unilateral sanctions on Turkey, including a ban on food imports and an end to visa-free travel.
On visa-free travel for Turkish citizens in EU countries, Cavusoglu said ongoing efforts would be intensified on the matter.
“We will meet with our teams, including [Turkey’s] new deputy foreign ministers and the First Vice-President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, in the coming days,” he added.
- Relations with US
Turning to relations with the U.S., Cavusoglu said that despite differences between the two sides, Turkey is open to resolving matters in a diplomatic way.
“Despite everything, we are open to discussing everything as an equal partner in order to resolve all existing problems, but on one condition: There will be no threatening language.”
Turkey and the U.S. are currently experiencing rocky relations following Washington’s imposition of sanctions on two government ministers for not releasing American pastor Andrew Brunson, who faces terrorism-related charges in Turkey.
Cavusoglu also said that Turkey and the U.S. can solve everything by coming together and talking.
“We are all for it,” he added.
Last Friday, President Donald Trump ramped up his attack on Turkey by doubling U.S. tariffs on Turkish aluminum and steel imports.
Turkey has increased tariffs on several U.S. products, including alcohol, tobacco and cars, according to a new presidential decree published Wednesday in the official gazette.
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