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Last Updated: Monday, 6 December, 2004, 16:02 GMT
Turkey and Russia sign trade deal
Ahmet Necdet Sezer (left) and Vladimir Putin
Ahmet Necdet Sezer (left) and Vladimir Putin signed agreements
Turkey and Russia have signed six agreements covering defence, trade and finance during President Vladimir Putin's visit to Ankara.

The trip, the first by a Russian head of state, has focussed on trade and economic relations.

Correspondents say that despite their historic rivalry, Turkey and Russia have experienced a huge increase in trade in recent years.

Mr Putin said he hoped his visit would open new horizons for economic links.

The BBC's Jonny Dymond says Turkey and the Soviet Union were uneasy neighbours for many decades. But Turkey wants its relations with Russia to change.

Turkey attracts more than a million Russian tourists each year and Russia is Turkey's biggest trade partner after Germany.

Mr Putin's Turkish counterpart, Ahmet Necdet Sezer, said dialogue and co-operation between the two countries would improve peace and stability in the region.

EU talks

Mr Putin said Turkey and Russia shared a similar approach to what he called international terrorism in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Caucasus.

He said Russia liked Turkey's "independent foreign policy".

"We also know that Turkey several times was suffering terrorist attacks and we are grateful to Turkish people and authorities for moral and political support of Russia in its fighting with international terrorism," he said.

Russia has previously expressed concern over public sympathy in Turkey for Chechen rebels.

Turkey is also trying to improve relations with its neighbours to the west. The European Union summit later this month will discuss whether to allow Turkey to start membership talks.

It is first expected to set out a series of tough conditions that Turkey may have to accept before starting talks.

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