ANKARA The chief of the Russian army's general staff, Valery Gerasimov, met his Turkish counterpart in Ankara on Thursday for talks on military cooperation and Syria, Turkish officials said, reflecting a warming of ties in the past few weeks.
Russia and Turkey have backed opposing sides in Syria, with Moscow supporting President Bashar al-Assad while Ankara backs rebels fighting to oust him. Relations hit a low last November, when Turkey downed a Russian war plane near the Syrian border.
But ties between Moscow and Ankara were largely restored last month. A Syrian ceasefire deal brokered by the United States and Russia could meanwhile change the dynamics of the conflict, raising the prospect of joint military targeting of banned Islamist groups by the former Cold War foes.
"They discussed the Syria conflict and military cooperation," a Turkish official said of Gerasimov's meeting with Turkish military chief Hulusi Akar, declining to be named because details of the talks were not made public.
Turkey launched its first major military incursion into Syria three weeks ago to try to push back Islamic State militants from its border and prevent Kurdish militia fighters from gaining ground in their wake.
Ankara now faces a difficult diplomatic balancing act if it is to win international support for the more permanent "safe zone" cleared of militants it wants on its border. Russia has in the past said any such incursion would be illegal.
(Reporting by Orhan Coskun in Ankara and Dmitry Solovyov in Moscow; Writing by Nick Tattersall; Editing by Maria Kiselyova and Mark Trevelyan)