The two leaders have also addressed steps to enhance bilateral relations, especially in tourism, transport, energy, and economy, and the fight against the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a news conference following their talks in Moscow, Russia, March 5, 2020.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a news conference following their talks in Moscow, Russia, March 5, 2020. (Reuters)

The Turkish and Russian presidents have spoken over the phone to discuss the latest developments in war-weary Libya and the eastern Mediterranean as well as other regional issues.

Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin stressed the importance of maintaining close cooperation and dialogue in this regard, Turkey's Directorate of Communications said on Monday.

The two leaders also addressed steps to enhance bilateral relations, especially in tourism, transport, energy, and economy, and the fight against the novel coronavirus pandemic.

READ MORE: Erdogan, Putin discuss coronavirus, regional issues 

The Kremlin said that the two leaders, focused mainly on the crisis in Libya, where they back opposing sides, highlighting the need to make real steps towards a sustainable ceasefire.

Libya has been torn by a civil war since the ouster of late ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Libya's new government was founded in 2015 under a UN-led agreement, but efforts for a long-term political settlement failed due to the military offensive by warlord Khalifa Haftar’s militias.

READ MORE: Turkey, Russia agree to push for Libya truce 

The UN recognises the Libyan government headed by Prime Minister Fayez al Sarraj as the country's legitimate authority.

Last Monday, Turkey announced that its drillship Oruc Reis would begin conducting fresh energy exploration in the eastern Mediterranean.

Turkey’s decision came following a controversial delimitation deal signed between Greece and Egypt, spurning Turkey’s earlier goodwill gesture to postpone energy exploration in the region.

The ship will continue its work in the eastern Mediterranean along with the ships Cengiz Han and Ataman until August 23.

READ MORE: Turkey issues new NAVTEX for work in eastern Mediterranean 

Syria protocol 

Erdogan and Putin also agreed to maintain contact between Turkey and Russia on Syria via military and diplomatic channels.

The Kremlin said they agreed to step up anti-terrorism efforts in Syria, after reports on Monday that a Turkish-Russian joint patrol was hit by a blast in the Idlib region. 

This March, Ankara and Moscow agreed on a protocol urging parties to "cease all military actions along the line of contact in the Idlib de-escalation area."

The protocol said joint Turkish-Russian patrols would begin on March 15 along the M4 highway from the settlement of Trumba — 2 km west of Saraqib — to the settlement of Ain al Havr. On Monday, the 25th joint land patrols were carried out in the region.

READ MORE: Turkey, Russia start joint patrols on Syria's Idlib highway 

Idlib has long been under siege by Assad regime forces and its allies, and previous ceasefires for the region were plagued by violations.

Turkey has worked to protect the local civilian population as well as rid the wider region of terrorist elements.

Syria has been ravaged by civil war since early 2011, when the Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protesters.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and more than 10 million displaced, according to UN estimates.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies