Russia sees opportunities to strengthen ties with Turkey

Putin also said he and President Ahmet Necdet Sezer discussed several regional security issues, including the situation in the Middle East, Iraq and the problem surrounding Iran's nuclear program.

Sezer told Putin that trade turnover - estimated last year at US$12.6 billion - could nearly double in coming years. Russia is the second-biggest exporter of goods to Turkey, after Germany, while Turkey is the eighth-largest source for imports to Russia, according to the AP.

The two leaders also were expected to discuss a Turkish proposal to build an overland pipeline that could carry Russian and Central Asian oil from a Black Sea port to Turkey's Mediterranean oil terminal of Ceyhan.

Russia has been reluctant to back Turkey's oil pipeline proposal. Russian state-run gas giant OAO Gazprom signed a competing deal in May with a Greek construction firm to build a pipeline from Bulgaria's Black Sea port of Burgaz to the Greek Aegean port of Alexandropolis.

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