Russia, Turkey downplay Syria differences

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ISTANBUL — The leaders of Russia and Turkey today downplayed differences over the Syrian civil war, saying they shared the common goal of trying to end the humanitarian crisis there and hailing their countries’ booming trade ties.

President Vladimir Putin of Russia, one of Syria’s few remaining allies, said he understood Turkish concerns about its border security after Syrian shells hit Turkish territory in recent months.

But he warned that Turkey’s request that NATO deploy Patriot missiles on its border with Syria could escalate fears of a wider conflict.

After meeting Putin in Istanbul, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the Turkish and Russian foreign ministers will work together more intensively on the Syrian problem.

Russia has blocked tough action against Syria at the United Nations, while Turkey has urged the establishment of a protected buffer zone for civilians in Syria.

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