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Turkish, Azerbaijani presidents meet in Istanbul

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has hosted his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev for talks in Istanbul.

Erdogan and Aliyev held a closed-door meeting on Saturday at the Vahdettin Mansion, according to Türkiye’s Communications Directorate.

No further information was released on the meeting, which comes as Türkiye deals with the aftermath of the Feburary 6 earthquakes that have claimed more than 44,210 lives in the country’s southern regions.

Azerbaijan was among the first countries to send rescue teams and relief supplies after the devastating quakes.

Besides sending 867 rescuers and medical personnel to the quake-hit region, Azerbaijan dispatched 15 planes, 395 trucks and a train of 25 containers carrying humanitarian aid supplies.

Earlier this week, Turkish authorities announced rescue efforts ended in all provinces except Hatay and Kahramanmaras, the epicentere of the earthquakes.

Azad Haydarov, an official with the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry, said: “As our president stresses, we will stay and continue to work here until all rescue and restoration efforts are finalised.”

The teams of Türkiye and Azerbaijan are working on the ground, shoulder to shoulder to save lives, he added.

Azerbaijani expert rescued 14 quake survivors with help of imaging device

‘Sorry’ for not doing more

While Azerbaijanis saved many lives by pulling people out of the rubble of collapsed buildings, an official said they are sorry for not being able to do more.

“We felt sorry” while pulling out bodies, said Murat Askerov, the team leader of Azerbaijani rescuers in Hatay, the southern province which was also hit by two fresh quakes on Tuesday. “In the first three days after we came to Kahramanmaras, we saved 53 people by working non-stop, day and night.”

“We always stand by Türkiye, as a brotherly country and we will do all we can,” he reiterated.

In total, Azerbaijani personnel, pulled out alive 53 people from the rubble and recovered 780 bodies. They have also established two tent cities in Kahramanmaras, joining the relief efforts meant not to leave the afflicted on the streets.

READ MORE: Türkiye, Azerbaijan hail three decades of strong diplomatic relations

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