The Turkish leader was seeking to persuade Russia to revive an agreement that allowed Ukraine to export grain and other commodities from three Black Sea ports.
In July, Mr Putin refused to extend the agreement, which was brokered by Turkey and the United Nations a year earlier.
Russia complained that a parallel deal promising to remove obstacles to Russian exports of food and fertiliser had not been honoured.
It said restrictions on shipping and insurance hampered its agricultural trade even though it has shipped record amounts of wheat since last year.
Opening the talks, Mr Putin said he was open to discussing the grain deal, among other issues.
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The two leaders met in Russia’s Black Sea resort of Sochi on Monday, where the Russian President has a residence.
A lot is riding on the talks for the world’s food supply.
The meeting takes place against a backdrop of more than 18 months of war and Ukraine’s recent counter-offensive. On Sunday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said his defence minister Oleksii Reznikov would be replaced this week.
The job requires “new approaches”,Mr Zelensky said, without elaborating. On Monday, Mr Reznikov published a photo of his resignation letter.
Since Mr Putin withdrew from the grain initiative, Mr Erdogan has repeatedly pledged to renew arrangements that helped avoid a food crisis in parts of Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
Ukraine and Russia are major suppliers of wheat, barley, sunflower oil and other goods that developing nations rely on.
Tim Benton, a food security expert at the Chatham House think tank, said: “My gut feeling is that Putin recognizes the leverage he has by using food as an economic weapon, and thus will fight for all he can get in terms of concessions on his wish-list.”
He said those may include Russia’s grains, or fertiliser exports, or wider issues.
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Data from the Joint Coordination Centre in Istanbul, which organised the Ukraine shipments, shows that 57 percent of the grain from Ukraine went to developing nations, with the top destination being China, which received nearly a quarter of the food.
Russia has repeatedly attacked the Odesa region, Ukraine’s main Black Sea port area. The Ukrainian air force said it intercepted 23 of 32 drones that targeted the Odea and Dnipropetrovsk regions, but did not specify damage caused by the drones that got through.
The Turkish President has maintained close ties to Mr Putin during the 18-month war in Ukraine. Turkey has not joined Western sanctions against Russia following its invasion, emerging as a main trading partner and logistical hub for Russia’s overseas trade.
Nato member Turkey, however, has also supported Ukraine, sending arms, meeting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and backing Kyiv’s bid to join the alliance.
Mr Erdogan angered Moscow in July when he allowed five Ukrainian commanders to return home. The soldiers had been captured by Russia and handed over to Turkey on condition they remain there for the duration of the war.
Mr Putin and Mr Erdogan – authoritarian leaders who have both been in power for more than two decades – are said to have a close rapport, fostered in the wake of a failed coup against Mr Erdogan in 2016 when Mr Putin was the first major leader to offer his support.
The Sochi summit follows talks between the Russian and Turkish foreign ministers on Thursday, during which Russia handed over a list of actions that the West would have to take in order for Ukraine’s Black Sea exports to resume.
Mr Erdogan has indicated sympathy for Mr Putin’s position. In July, he said Mr Putin had “certain expectations from Western countries” over the Black Sea deal and that it was “crucial for these countries to take action in this regard”.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres recently sent Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov “concrete proposals” aimed at getting Russian exports to global markets and allowing the resumption of the Black Sea initiative.
But Mr Lavrov said Moscow was not satisfied with the letter. Describing Turkey’s “intense” efforts to revive the agreement.
Turkish foreign minister Hakan Fidan said it was a “process that tries to better understand Russia’s position and requests, and to meet them”.
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