Putin kept waiting as Erdogan plays power games ahead of meeting in St Petersburg

Leaders meet in bid to reestablish ties severed over following Turkish downing of Russian plane in November 

Caroline Mortimer
Wednesday 10 August 2016 23:53
Putin kept waiting

Russian President Vladimir Putin was given a taste of his own medicine when he was keep waiting by his Turkish counterpart ahead of a meeting in St Petersburg.

In a move Mr Putin has employed with Western leaders for years, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan left the Russian premier standing awkardly in front of press cameras for several minutes before he entered the room with an entourage in tow.

The two leaders are meeting for the first time since a diplomatic row broke out over the downing of a Russian plane by a Turkish anti-aircraft missile in November.

Both men like to project themselves as a strong leaders, and Mr Erdogan is keen to reassert himself after surviving an attempted coup by some of his soldiers last month.

Since the attempt on 15 July, Mr Erodgan has cracked down on the country's opposition, with 26,000 people having been arrested so far and a further 70,000 having lost their jobs.

Mr Erdogan made the decision to move closer to Mr Putin following the coup as he feels his Western allies have not done enough to support his crackdown.

He called on the US to extradite Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who he has accused of organising the uprising, but Washington has refused to consider it until evidence is presented.

The president is also said to be annoyed by European condemnation of his plans to reintroduce the death penalty.

After the embarassment at the beginning, the meeting appeared to proceed well with both sides agreeing to take steps to rebuild their damaged trade ties and revive major energy projects.

They also discussed the Syrian conflict. Ankara pushed for Assad's removal, but Moscow has continued to support his government with air strikes.

Mr Putin is notorious for keeping leaders waiting ahead of crucial talks as a show of strength.

In 2014, he was said to have infuriated German Chancellor Angela Merkel after he kept her waiting ahead of talks about relieving trade sanctions on Russia imposed after it invaded the Crimea. In a further insult, he showed up late to a dinner for European and Asian leaders.

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