Russia ends tourism ban to Turkey, seeks trade negotiations

MOSCOW, June 30 (UPI) — Russian President Vladimir Putin lifted a ban on Turkish tourism and ordered trade talks between the two countries months after the downing of a Russian military jet by Turkey plunged diplomatic relations into crisis.

Putin said he held “constructive” phone talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that focused on “restoration of the traditionally friendly” relations between the two countries. They plan to meet soon, the Kremlin said. Putin also offered “deep condolences” for the Istanbul attacks on Tuesday that left 42 dead and hundreds injured.

Turkey has long been a popular vacation spot for Russians. The renewed relations come at a time when Turkey’s tourism industry is seeing the largest drop in decades. The number of Russian visitors to Turkey dropped by about 92 percent in May over the same time last year, officials said.

Irina Tyurina, Russia’s Union of Travel Industry press secretary, said the first Russian tourists will be able to travel to Turkey within weeks.

“I think it won’t take long for Russia’s Federal Air Transport Agency to give permission to national airlines,” she said.

The Russian SU-24 fighter jet was shot down near the Syrian-Turkey border on November 24, spiraling the countries into a war of words. Putin said the act was committed by “accomplices of terrorists” and warned there would be “serious consequences.”

Turkey said it warned the Russian jet of airspace violations 10 times in a span of five minutes, a claim supported by the United States.

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