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Putin says Turkey 'priority' for Russian foreign policy

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Russia considers ties with Turkey to be a foreign policy priority, the Russian prime minister said on Friday.
MOSCOW, February 13 (RIA Novosti) - Russia considers ties with Turkey to be a foreign policy priority, the Russian prime minister said on Friday.

"Russia is Turkey's number one partner in terms of trade turnover," Vladimir Putin told Turkish President Abdullah Gul, who is on the first day of a four-day official visit to Russia.

The Russian prime minister said that the trade between Russia and Turkey totaled $32 billion in 2008, adding that "Turkey is a priority in our [Russian] foreign policy."

Gul, whose current visit is his first to Russia since becoming president, also appraised relations between the countries and invited Putin to visit his country.

"We want to see you in our country and invite you to Turkey," Gul said.

Russia is a major energy exporter to Turkey, pumping natural gas across the Black Sea through the Blue Stream pipeline, the largest Russian-Turkish energy project to date.

Turkey is also one of the most popular destinations for Russian tourists, helping boost a sector that is an important foreign-currency earner for Turkey.

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