Turkey is priority for Russia, Putin .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:none; color:#000000;} .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink:hover { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:underline; color:#990000;} ISTANBUL - Russia considers ties with Turkey a foreign policy priority, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said during a meeting with President Abdullah Gül late Friday.

"Russia is Turkey's number one partner in trade turnover," Putin told Gül, who wrapped up his four-day official visit to Russia yesterday. He said the trade volume between Russia and Turkey totaled $32 billion in 2008.

Gül also praised relations between the countries and invited Putin to visit Turkey. Putin applauded the emergence of Russia as Turkey's number one trade partner, AFP news agency reported. "You are the author of these relations. You have done a great service in this," Gül told Putin, according to the report.

New energy agreements

Gul's visit is seen as historic because the countries' diplomatic and economic ties are set to intensify. During the visit Russian officials welcomed Turkey’s diplomatic moves in the Caucasus and Black Sea.

Russia also hailed an initiative put forward by Turkey during last year's Georgia war known as the Caucasus Stability and Cooperation Platform. The two countries also plan to sign new energy agreements.

After meeting Putin and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Gül proceeded to Tatarstan yesterday where he attended the Tatar-Turkish Business Forum in the capital, Kazan.

Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev said Turkey and Tatarstan should come together and show the world how strong regional cooperation can be. "Tatarstan wants to make use of Turkey's experience and improve multidimensional cooperation with Turkey," Shaimiev said.