U.S. Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Istanbul late Friday for official talks with Turkish top political figures amid strained relations over the crisis in Syria.

Welcoming Biden at Dolmabahce Palace, Davutoglu praised the cooperation between Turkey and the U.S. as playing a key role in addressing crises in the Middle East.

"We've been recently working in close contact in the fight against ISIL, and also on the crimes that have been perpetrated by the Syrian regime," he told the press before proceeding to a working dinner at the Prime Ministry office.

He said that intensive discussions are underway among intelligence services, diplomats and the defense forces of the two countries.

Thanking the vice president for his "timely visit," Davutoglu said that Biden's visit was an opportune moment for the two leaders to have a broader discussion about the ongoing efforts.

The Turkish premier said they will also discuss the Cyprus peace negotiations that have gained momentum -- as he put it -- after Biden's visit to the island in May.

Biden spoke excitedly of the "great advantage" of being back in Turkey, a friend of the U.S. and a NATO ally. "Friends don't let friends wonder about what they are thinking," Biden said.

The U.S. number-two noted that the U.S. military greatly valued the confidence and capability of the Turkish military, as well as the partnership between the two armies.

Biden's talks with Turkish Premier Davutoglu and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will focus on “cooperation in fighting ISIL, and coping with the humanitarian crisis caused by the conflicts on the other side of Turkey’s southern border,” a statement from the White House said on Tuesday.

It is the vice-president's first visit to Turkey since he criticized the country, in a speech at Harvard University on Oct. 2, for 'contributing to the rise of ISIL.'

His accusation angered Erdogan, who said at the time, “Biden has to apologize for his statements," or become "history to me."

On Oct. 4, the White House released a statement saying, "The vice president apologized for any implication that Turkey or other allies and partners in the region had intentionally supplied or facilitated the growth of ISIL or other violent extremists in Syria."

On Saturday, Biden will attend the sixth annual Energy and Economic Summit hosted by the Atlantic Council in Istanbul, and deliver a speech at the closing session of the summit. Then the vice president is to meet with the “Checks and Balances Network,” a group funded by the National Democratic Institute.

He is to meet with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for a working lunch on Saturday at the Beylerbeyi Palace.

Biden is scheduled to leave Turkey for Washington on Sunday after a meeting with the Istanbul-based Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I, the spiritual leader of the world’s Eastern Orthodox churches.

Anadolu Agency