Erdogan to meet Ukrainian, Russian delegations before talks begin

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan saidhe will meet with the negotiation teams from Ukraine and Russia on Tuesday before the new round of peace talks between the two warring sides begin in Istanbul.

“We will have a short meeting with the delegations,” Erdogan said at a press conference after a cabinet meeting.

Turkey is “almost the only country that makes sincere efforts to resolve the ongoing crisis between Ukraine and Russia through dialogue”, Xinhua news agency quoted the President as saying.

The two-day in-person talks scheduled are slated to begin at 10.30 a.m. (local time, about 1 p.m. IST) at the Dolmabahce Presidential Working Office in Istabul’s Besiktas district.

Erdogan also emphasised that his talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky are “progressing positively”.

“One will not be able to prevent Turkey, which has fair and sincere stance, from becoming a bridge of peace, tranquility and trust in its region and the world,” Erdogan said.

“We know that those who work to make our country a side of the war in the Russia-Ukraine crisis are watching the bridge of peace we have built with a squeeze of heart,” he added.

In a phone call on Sunday, Erdogan and Putin agreed to hold the next round of Ukrainian and Russian talks in Istanbul.

Since February 28, four days after Moscow waged its war on Kiev, Russia and Ukraine have held three rounds of face-to-face peace talks in Belarus and then a series of online discussions but have failed to reach a major agreement.

Among other things, Russia is demanding that Ukraine abandon any intention of joining NATO, an issue the Ukrainian President said he is willing to compromise on.

Other issues expected to be discussed include the fate of separatist-held regions in Ukraine’s east, as well as the status of Crimea, which was formally annexed by Russia in 2014.

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