Turkey to stress Ukraine support during Zelenskiy visit, Turkish source says

By Thomson Reuters Mar 8, 2024 | 2:05 AM

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkey is expected to emphasise its continued strong support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence during a visit by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to Istanbul on Friday, a Turkish diplomatic source said.

The Turkish Presidency said Zelenskiy will hold talks with President Tayyip Erdogan on the course of the Ukraine-Russia war, the Black Sea grain deal and bilateral relations, with the meeting scheduled for 1600 GMT.

It was unclear whether they will hold a news conference.

“It is planned to convey that Turkey is continuing its efforts to end the war as soon as possible on the basis of negotiations,” the source said.

Among items on the agenda are developments concerning a new regulation on the navigational safety of commercial ships between Russia and Ukraine following the termination of the Black Sea Initiative, the source said.

Last July, Russia withdrew from the deal, which had allowed Ukraine to safely export grain from its Black Sea ports, saying its demands for better terms for its own food and fertiliser exports were being ignored.

Ankara has sought to persuade Russia to return to the Initiative – brokered by Turkey and the United Nations. Russia has said it was not interested in reviving it.

NATO member Turkey shares a maritime border with Ukraine and Russia in the Black Sea and has aimed to maintain good ties with both amid the war. It has provided military support for Kyiv and while opposing the sanctions on Russia.

“When peace returns to Ukraine, we aim to continue to be a strong supporter of the country’s reconstruction efforts, based on our strategic partnership,” the source said.

(Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Ece Toksabay)