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Zelensky To Visit Turkey On Friday

PoliticsZelensky To Visit Turkey On Friday

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will visit Istanbul on Friday for talks with Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the war against Russia and Black Sea navigation, the Turkish presidency said.

The two leaders will meet at the Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul, with a news conference scheduled for 7:00 pm (1600 GMT), the presidency said on Thursday in a message on X, formerly Twitter.

“The situation between Ukraine and Russia and the latest contacts regarding the restarting of a secure corridor in the Black Sea” will be at the centre of their meeting, the ministry added.

Zelensky last visited Turkey in July 2023 when he held lengthy talks with Erdogan, who also has close ties with Moscow.

When he returned to Kyiv, Zelensky brought back five top commanders from the Azov regiment who were supposed to have remained in Turkey until the end of the conflict under a prisoner exchange deal with Moscow.

Members of the regiment played a key role in defending the city of Mariupol until it fell to the Russians in May 2022.

Ukraine has repeatedly appealed for more weapons to help them fend off Russian forces, who have made recent gains on the ground.

French president Emmanuel Macron hosted a video conference of 28 countries including Ukraine on Thursday to follow up on the initiatives discussed at a summit he hosted last week.

Turkey, which is highly dependent on Russia for energy supplies, has shied away from joining sanctions against Moscow and is regularly accused by the West of circumventing them.

But Ankara, with the United Nations, brokered a deal between Russia and Ukraine that allowed the export of Kyiv’s grain through the Black Sea until Russia pulled out in July 2022.

Ukraine started using an alternative route for its grain along the coasts of Bulgaria and Romania in August, a month after Russia quit the landmark deal.

Turkey has been lobbying hard for an agreement to ensure cargo ships can once again navigate those waters in safety.

Last Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visited Turkey, meeting his Turkish counterpart Hakan Fidan at a diplomatic forum.

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Ankara has carefully maintained ties with its two Black Sea neighbours.

Turkey still hopes to revive a 2022 peace effort when top negotiators from the rivals met in Istanbul.

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