Russia says Trump’s Jerusalem declaration ‘defies common sense’

Russia says Trump’s Jerusalem declaration ‘defies common sense’

'Deeply concerned' Putin to visit Turkey for talks on Jerusalem, Syria; Erdogan has threatened to cut ties with Israel over US embassy move

Russian President Vladimir Putin visits the Yamal LNG plant in the port of Sabetta on the Yamal peninsula, beyond the Arctic circle, on December 8, 2017. (AFP Photo/Sputnik/Alexey Druzhinin)
Russian President Vladimir Putin visits the Yamal LNG plant in the port of Sabetta on the Yamal peninsula, beyond the Arctic circle, on December 8, 2017. (AFP Photo/Sputnik/Alexey Druzhinin)

The United States’ recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital “defies common sense,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Friday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday he was “deeply concerned” by Washington’s decision to recognize Jerusalem. In a telephone conversation with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Putin called for the Palestinians and Israel to “hold back” and renew negotiations.

Putin will visit Turkey on Monday for talks with Erdogan on Syria and Jerusalem, the Turkish presidency said Friday.

Putin will visit Ankara “at the invitation of” Erdogan, the presidency said in a statement, adding that the talks would focus on the latest developments on Jerusalem and the situation in Syria.

The Kremlin confirmed the visit, saying the two men planned to “discuss current questions of bilateral cooperation and above all the progress of joint projects in energy.”

This appeared to be a reference to the TurkStream pipeline that is being built under the Black Sea to pump Russian natural gas to Turkey, and also to the Akkuyu nuclear power plant Moscow is building in southern Turkey.

It added that talks are also scheduled “on key international problems, including the situation in the Middle East and finding a solution in Syria.”

The latest encounter between the two leaders comes at a time of intense diplomacy between Turkey and Russia, especially over Syria.

It will be their eighth face-to-face meeting this year.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan shake hands after a news conference following their talks in Putin’s residence in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, Wednesday, May 3, 2017. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool)

Russia, along with Iran, is the key backer of Syrian President Bashar Assad, and Moscow’s military intervention inside Syria is widely seen as having tipped the balance in the conflict.

Turkey, however, has backed the rebels seeking Assad’s ouster in a conflict that has left more than 330,000 dead.

But Russia and Turkey have been working together since a 2016 reconciliation deal ended a crisis caused by the shooting down of a Russian warplane over Syria.

In recent months, Turkey has markedly toned down its criticism of the Assad regime and focused on opposing a Syrian Kurdish militia seen by Ankara as a terror group.

Their last meeting was on November 22 in the Russian resort of Sochi, when they were joined by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani for a three-way summit on Syria.

A pro-Palestinian protester holds a poster calling US President Donald Trump a ‘servant of Zionism’ during a demonstration in Istanbul on December 8, 2017. (AFP Photo/Yasin Akgul)

Both Turkey and Russia have expressed alarm at the US move to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Putin said he was “deeply concerned” while Erdogan has taken a strong line against the move and called an emergency summit meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) for December 13 in Istanbul.

Erdogan has threatened to sever diplomatic ties with Israel over Trump’s recognition. Turkey, Erdogan said, will “follow this struggle to the very last moment with determination and we could even go right up to cutting our diplomatic relations with Israel.”

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