Turkey's Erdogan offers to host Ukraine-Russia peace talks

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, shakes hands with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Istanbul, Turkey, Friday, March 8, 2024.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, shakes hands with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Istanbul, Turkey, Friday, March 8, 2024. Copyright Francisco Seco/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved
By Euronews with AP
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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy remains firm on not engaging directly with Russia on peace talks, despite an offer from the Turkish President to host a peace summit between the two countries.

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose NATO-member country has sought to balance its close relations with both Ukraine and Russia, offered during a visit on Friday from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to host a peace summit between the two countries.

Erdogan, who has repeatedly discussed brokering a peace deal, said at a news conference in Istanbul following his meeting with Zelenskyy that he hoped Russia would be on board with Turkey’s offer.

“Since the beginning, we have contributed as much as we could toward ending the war through negotiations," Erdogan said. "We are also ready to host a peace summit in which Russia will also be included.”

Ukraine remains firm on not engaging directly with Russia on peace talks, and Zelenskyy has said multiple times the initiative in peace negotiations must belong to the country which has been invaded.

Zelenskyy said any peace negotiations must align with a 10-point plan he has previously suggested, which includes food security, restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity, the withdrawal of Russian troops, release of all prisoners, a tribunal for those responsible for the aggression, and security guarantees for Ukraine.

The Ukrainian leader expressed hope that at the inaugural peace summit expected to be held this year in Switzerland, the possibility of reopening all Ukrainian ports, not only in Odesa but also in Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine, will be considered.

Zelenskyy, who visited shipyards where corvettes for the Ukrainian navy are being built, said on X that agreements were reached on joint defence projects with the Turkish government and corporations. He said on Telegram that they also agreed to simplify trade and remove barriers to business.

Erdogan said the two discussed stability in the Black Sea shipping corridor and he reiterated Turkey’s support for Ukraine’s “territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence.”

The visit comes as Zelenskyy and other officials continue to press other nations for more munitions and weaponry to halt the advance of Russian troops trying to make deeper gains into the Ukraine-held western part of the Donetsk region and also penetrating into the Kharkiv region north of it in the third year of war.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said in Vilnius, Lithuania, where he was attending a meeting of the foreign ministers of France, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, that "drop by drop” aid to Ukraine no longer works.

“If things continue as they currently happen, it’s not going to end well for all of us,” Kuleba said. "What is required is an unrestricted and timely supply of all types of weapons and ammunition to ensure that Ukraine beats Russia and the war in Europe does not spill over.”

An envoy from China, which has frustrated Ukraine and its Western allies by boosting trade with Russia and portraying the conflict and its causes largely from Moscow’s point of view, was in Kyiv on Thursday during a European visit for talks on settling what it calls the Ukraine crisis. Li Hui, the special representative for Eurasian affairs, met with officials from Russia, the EU, Switzerland and Poland before his stop in Ukraine and was scheduled to go on to Germany and France.

Shortly after Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Turkey hosted a meeting between the Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers as well as unsuccessful talks between negotiators from the two countries aimed at ending the hostilities.

Later in 2022, Turkey, along with the United Nations, also brokered a deal between Russia and Ukraine that allowed the shipment of millions of tons of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea. Russia, however, pulled out of the deal last year, citing obstacles to its export of food and fertilisers.

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