Kremlin says Russia's cooperation with Turkey will continue whoever wins election
MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Kremlin said on Monday that it expected Russia's cooperation with Turkey to continue and deepen whoever wins the country's presidential election, which is set to go to a second round on May 28.
Neither incumbent President Tayyip Erdogan or opposition rival Kemal Kilicdaroglu appear to have achieved more than 50% of the vote needed to win outright after counting overnight.
"We have great respect for the choice of the Turkish people, and will respect it, but in any case we expect our cooperation to continue, deepen and broaden," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
NATO-member Turkey has maintained strong ties with Russia under President Erdogan, despite differences of opinion over Ukraine and Syria, and Ankara relies heavily on energy imports from Moscow.
Kilicdaroglu, Erdogan's challenger, has pledged to maintain good ties with Moscow if he wins. But he also accused Russia before the election of trying to meddle in it by releasing "deep fakes", an allegation the Kremlin denied.
Peskov said Russia regarded Turkey as what he called "a mature democracy" capable of holding transparent elections and of ensuring no illegal irregularities.
(Reporting by Reuters; Writing by Caleb Davis; Editing by Andrew Osborn)