Erdogan, Putin discussed warplanes, submarines cooperation: report

By Raziye Akkoc ANKARA (AFP) - Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed deepening defence industry cooperation with Russia during talks with his counterpart Vladimir Putin this week, the Turkish leader was quoted as saying Thursday.    
Erdogan and Putin held their first face-to-face talks in 18 months in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on Wednesday, with the Syrian conflict high on their agenda.    
"We had the opportunity to discuss what steps we could take on plane motors, warplanes," the Turkish leader told journalists on his return to Turkey.    
"Another area where we can take several steps together is on building boats. We will God willing take joint steps even on submarines," he added, NTV broadcaster reported.    
The two men even spoke about Turkey-Russia cooperation in space, Erdogan said.    
His comments will raise eyebrows in the West and especially in the United States, after Washington slapped sanctions on Turkey last year over its multi-billion-dollar purchase of the Russian-made S-400 air defence system.    
The US also expelled Turkey from the F-35 programme under which Western allies produce the next-generation fighter jet's parts and secure its early purchasing rights.    
Ankara was expecting as many as 100 of the stealth fighter jets, and multiple Turkish suppliers were involved in the construction.    
Erdogan reaffirmed Turkey's commitment to the S-400, vowing Ankara "would not take a step back" from the purchase, but called on the US to either give the planes Turkey ordered or return its $1.4 billion payment.    
Relations between Turkey and the US are strained, and Erdogan admitted last week that his personal ties with US President Joe Biden had "not gotten off to a good start".    
But Biden and Erdogan are expected to meet at a G20 summit in Rome next month.    
- Syria tensions -    
Erdogan also said he proposed that Turkey and Russia could work together on building two more nuclear power plants, on which the Russian side agreed to cooperate.    
Turkey's first nuclear power plant is under construction by Russia's Rosatom state nuclear energy firm in the country's south coast and it is expected to be online for Turkey's centenary as a post-Ottoman republic in 2023.    
Despite Erdogan's warm words, the relationship between Turkey and Russia is complex, with the two countries on opposing sides in conflicts such as Libya and Syria.    
Erdogan offered only vague comments on the two men's talks about northwestern Syria where regime troops and Moscow have increased airstrikes in recent weeks.    
Last year Turkey and Russia agreed a ceasefire deal for Idlib, the last major jihadist and rebel stronghold in northwest Syria.    
"We focused on the need to take steps together on the issue," Erdogan said, and finding a "permanent, final and sustainable solution" for Idlib.    
Russia stressed the need to "implement" the agreement, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Thursday, "in terms of ousting terrorist elements from Idlib".    
But Peskov would not elaborate on whether that meant Russian forces would continue airstrikes and if Turkish forces had to withdraw.    
A UK-based war monitor said at least 11 fighters from a pro-Turkish rebel group were killed Sunday in Russian air raids outside the northern Syrian town of Afrin.    
US slightly revises up its GDP estimate for Q2 to 6.7%    
WASHINGTON, Sep 30, 2021 (AP) — The U.S. economy expanded at a 6.7% annual pace from April through June, the Commerce Department said Thursday, slightly upgrading its estimate of last quarter's growth in the face of a resurgence of COVID-19 in the form of the delta variant.    
The government's estimate of growth in the second quarter — its last of three — was up from its previous estimate of a 6.6% annual pace. It will likely mark a high point for the economy's expansion this year as the virus slows some activity, government support programs wind down and manufacturing supply-chain issues persist.    
Thursday’s report from the government showed that the nation’s gross domestic product — its total output of goods and services — accelerated from a 6.3% annual rate in the first three months of the year.    
During the first half of the year, the economy was being boosted by vast federal support for the recovery from the pandemic recession — trillions of dollars in individual stimulus payments, expanded unemployment aid and help for small businesses.    
Now, with those programs winding down or having already expired and with the delta variant’s spread having discouraged some people from flying, shopping and eating out, most economists say they think growth is slowing in the July-September period. Most have estimated an annual rate of around 4% for the current quarter.    
For 2021 as a whole, a panel of forecasters with the National Association for Business Economics has projected growth of 5.7%. That would mark a solid bounce-back from a 3.4% annual drop last year, when the economy was in the grips of the pandemic. And it would represent the most robust calendar-year growth since a 7.2% surge in 1984, when the nation was emerging from a deep recession.    
An even stronger pace of expansion, though, had been expected for this year. But the surge in COVID cases has weakened growth, hiring and consumer confidence. In addition, persistent supply chain problems have shrunk production at auto plants and other manufacturers, further reducing growth. The supply chain problems are connected to the global surge in the pandemic, which has slowed production of computer chips and other vital components made in Asia.    
“The delta variant became a bit of a sandstorm keeping the economy from growing faster,” said Sung Won Song, economies and business professor at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. “The virus contributed to supply shortages and labor shortages.”    
Most economists expect the economy to grow at a rate of at least 4% next year. That would amount to twice the modest average annual gains during the decade after the 2008 financial crisis, when the economy engaged in a long, slow and grinding recovery.    
Next year’s growth could benefit if Congress manages to break an impasse and approve a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill as well as $3.5 trillion social spending and climate measure. Prospects for both measures remain hazy. But even a pared-down spending measure would likely provide some economic stimulus.    
Analysts also expect the delta variant to impose a lesser drag on growth next year.    
“Delta does appear to be winding down, and even if it does not go away, each successive wave should be less destructive,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics. “I expect the economy, which is very closely tied to the path of the pandemic, will rebound as people go back to restaurants and start traveling again.”    
Zandi predicted that the economy will be strong enough over the next 18 months to restore full employment, with an unemployment rate of around 3.5%, by spring of 2023. That would represent a three-year recovery in the labor market, which lost 22 million jobs after the pandemic tore through the economy in March and April of 2020. That would mark an unusually swift recovery. After most recessions, the economy usually takes five or six years to achieve a full jobs recovery.    
The Federal Reserve has been nurturing the economy through ultra-low interest rates and $120 billion in monthly bond purchases that are intended to hold down long-term loan rates. But last week, the Fed signaled that it would likely start reducing those purchases as soon as November.    
By late 2002 or early 2023, the Fed is expected to begin raising key short-term interest rate, which influences many individual and corporate loans.