ISTANBUL - Visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin said in Istanbul on Monday that Russia is not an advocate of the Syrian government.
"We are not protecting the regime, and we are not advocates," Putin said during a press conference with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. "What worries us is the future of Syria. We do not want recent mistakes to be repeated."
Russia's President Vladimir Putin gestures during a news conference after their meeting with Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul Dec 3, 2012. [Photo/Agencies]
Turkey and Russia explicitly have opposite views about Syria. Moscow is a key ally of Syria while Ankara is supporting the opposition trying to replace Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
"Our positions on Syria are the same but we have different ideas on how the future of Syria will be constructed. We are exchanging views with our Turkish friends. We have developed new ideas during our meeting with the Turkish premier on which we will work," said Putin.
Putin arrived in Turkey Monday amid tensions between Moscow and Ankara over the Syrian crisis.
"Syria is not in a position to use nuclear weapons," Putin told reporters, adding that "There are no nuclear weapons in Syria. They are not even close to make it."
Regarding the Syrian shell that had landed in Turkey earlier, Putin said "Turkey and Russia are neighbors who have great responsibilities. We will continue to consult with our Turkish friends and work on new ideas."
"Russia understands Turkey's concerns, however, deploying Patriot missiles is not the model we prefer," Putin said, responding to a question over deployment of Patriot missiles along Turkey's border with Syria. "We think that this is the not the right model and could deteriorate the situation."
The two countries' relations deteriorated when Turkey forced a Syria-bound plane to land in Turkey in October, claiming that it had Russian-made defense equipment on board. Moscow said the plane was legally carrying radar parts for Syria.
Although Turkey and Russia have different viewpoints over Syria, their economic relations continue to grow in high speed. The two countries aim to increase the trade volume to $100 billion in the coming years.
Putin's visit to Turkey is his first trip since October. He was suffering from a serious back trouble or other illness, according to rumors.