Putin says Turkey played 'critical role' in Aleppo
Russian President Vladimir Putin has described the evacuation of eastern Aleppo as the biggest humanitarian operation in the world.

Putin's remarks came on Friday during his 12th annual news conference, which more than 1,400 journalists attended.

Speaking in a broadcast carried on state-owned channel Russia Today, Putin said: "This is the biggest operation in the world."

Putin claimed about 100,000 people had been evacuated from the Syrian city of Aleppo.

The Russian leader also described the trilateral cooperation between Turkey, Iran and Russia as playing a "critical role” in the Aleppo crisis.

A meeting of Russian, Iranian and Turkish foreign ministers was held in Moscow on Tuesday. They agreed on a joint declaration to ensure the evacuation of civilians and armed groups from eastern Aleppo.

Putin said this could not have been achieved without the "active" cooperation of Turkey and Iran.

Russia’s president said there was a need to sign a cease-fire deal in Syria. He recalled that Turkey and Iran had agreed on an earlier suggestion to bring together representatives of the Syrian regime and opposition in Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev had expressed his "readiness" to provide a platform for talks in Astana.

Karlov killing

Putin had postponed Friday’s conference for the first time ever to attend on Thursday the memorial for Moscow’s ambassador to Turkey who was assassinated Monday in Ankara.

Speaking about the killing of Andrey Karlov, Putin said: "I think it was an attempt on Russia and Russian-Turkish relations."

"We are fully aware of the importance of Russian-Turkish relations and we will certainly do anything to develop them," Putin added.

Karlov died after being shot multiple times at an art exhibition in the Turkish capital. He was delivering a speech when 22-year-old Turkish policeman Mevlut Mert Altintas opened fire. Altintas was later gunned down in an exchange of fire with security personnel.

Russia-US relations

Putin dismissed accusations Russia took part in cyber-attacks on the U.S. during last month’s presidential election.

He said the "losing side" was only looking for people on the outside to blame.

The White House last week suggested Putin was directly responsible for cyber hacking intended to undermine the U.S. election.

Putin said he "never" revealed the contents of his conversation with U.S. President Barack Obama.

He added Russia now wanted to have "constructive" relations with President-elect Donald Trump.

He said Russia will continue to enhance its armed forces, including nuclear weapons. He also said: "We will never join in an arms race," adding Russia would abide by international treaties.
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Last Modified: 2016-12-24 12:20:26
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