Russian and Turkish presidents meet in bid to 'restore relations' between the two countries

Relations had soured after the downing of a Russian jet near the Turkey-Syria border last year

Russian and Turkish presidents meet in bid to 'restore relations' between the two countries

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, welcomes Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Image: Alexander Zemlianichenko / AP/Press Association Images

Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan has met Vladimir Putin in a move to restore relations following a bitter feud over Ankara's downing of a Russian warplane last year.

The visit to St Petersburg by Mr Erdoğan is his first foreign trip since the failed coup against him last month, that has triggered mass purges and frayed relations with the West.

Speaking ahead of his visit, Mr Erdoğan told Russian state media: "This visit seems to me a new milestone in bilateral relations, beginning with a clean slate, and I personally, with all my heart and on behalf of the Turkish nation salute Mr Putin and all Russians."

On meeting his Turkish counterpart, Mr Putin told him: "Your visit today, despite a very difficult situation regarding domestic politics, indicates that we all want to restart dialogue and restore relations between Russia and Turkey."

Mr Erdoğan said Turkey was entering a "very different period" in relations with Russia, and that closer ties between the two countries would help solve problems in the region.

The two leaders discussed bilateral relations, counter terrorism measures and the ongoing crisis in Syria during their meeting in St Petersburg. 

The relationship between the two countries has apparently improved significantly in recent months, after the shooting down of the Russian jet on 24th November near the Syria–Turkey border led to a period of increased tensions.

The jet's pilot was killed by militant gunfire as he attempted to parachute to safety, while the plane's weapon systems officer was later rescued.

Initially, the incident caused a major rift between Russia and Turkey, with the two countries blaming each other.

Russia also imposed a number of sanctions - including restrictions on food imports and tourism - on Turkey as a result.

However, Mr Erdoğan apparently wrote to Mr Putin in June to 'express his sympathy' for the pilot's death - with Russian state media agency RT saying the Turkish president had 'apologised' for the incident.

Relations between the two countries have begun to normalise, and the two leaders spoke by phone after last month's coup attempt.

Mr Putin is said to have noted "the significant increase in the number of Russian tourists travelling to Turkey following the lifting of restrictions" during the call, with Mr Erdoğan pledging to help ensure their safety. 

Today's meeting comes against a backdrop of Turkey accusing Europe and the US of showing a lack of solidarity and being more concerned over the post-coup crackdown than the attempted putsch itself.

Turkey's justice minister has warned the US will "sacrifice relations" unless it extradites Pennsylvania-based preacher Fethullah Gulen, blamed by Ankara for the failed coup.