Erdogan says Putin may visit Turkey in April for power plant inauguration
ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin may visit Turkey on April 27 for the inauguration of the country's first nuclear power reactor built by Russia's state nuclear energy company Rosatom.
"Maybe there is a possibility that Mr Putin will come on April 27, or we may connect to the inauguration ceremony online and we will take the first step in Akkuyu," Erdogan said in televised comments on private broadcaster ATV.
Turkey will load the first nuclear fuel into the first power unit of the Akkuyu nuclear power plant and officially grant it nuclear facility status on April 27, Erdogan said in an earlier announcement on Wednesday.
The Kremlin on Monday denied Turkish reports that Putin was planning to visit Turkey.
The Kremlin said on Saturday that Putin and Erdogan discussed during a phone call the successful implementation of joint strategic projects in the energy sector, including the construction of the Akkuyu nuclear power plant.
The $20 billion, 4,800 megawatt (MW) project to build four reactors in the Mediterranean town of Akkuyu will allow Turkey to join the small club of nations with civil nuclear energy.
Turkey previously announced plans to launch the first reactor at Akkuyu in 2023.
Earlier this month, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for Putin over alleged war crimes in Ukraine, prompting outrage from the Kremlin. But Turkey is not a party to the Rome Statute, which created the ICC.
(Reporting by Huseyin Hayatsever; Editing by Tom Perry and Stephen Coates)