Putin will visit Türkiye next August to meet with Erdoğan


Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan said on Saturday he had urged Russia to extend the deal to transport grain across the Black Sea for at least three months, and announced a visit to Türkiye by his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in August.

Erdoğan made his comments at a joint news conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky after they discussed the fate of an arrangement brokered by Türkiye and the United Nations last year to allow the safe transportation of grain from Ukrainian ports across the Black Sea despite the war in Ukraine.

Zelensky arrived in Türkiye after visiting Bulgaria and the Czech Republic as part of a tour of some NATO members aimed at urging them to take concrete steps at a summit next week to grant Ukraine NATO membership, which Erdoğan said Kiev deserved.

Erdoğan said work was now underway to extend the grain agreement beyond its July 17 expiry date and extend it for longer periods.

He added that the agreement would be one of the most important issues on the agenda for his discussions with Putin in Türkiye next month.

“We hope it will be extended at least once every three months, not every two months… We’ll make an effort in this regard and try to increase its duration to two years,” Erdoğan said at the press conference with Zelensky.

The two presidents said they also discussed another important issue of Erdoğan’s talks with Putin, the issue of prisoner exchanges, which Zelensky said was the first thing on their agenda.

“I hope we will get a result from this soon,” Erdogan said.

Zelensky said he would wait for the outcome of the suspension, but made it clear that the discussion touched on details about returning all captives, including children deported to Russia and other groups.

Erdoğan indicated that the issue might also raise in his contacts with the Russian President before his visit.

“If we had some phone calls before that, we will discuss it on call as well,” he said.

The Kremlin said it would monitor the talks closely, saying Putin highly appreciated Erdoğan’s mediation in trying to resolve the conflict in Ukraine.

“Regarding future contacts between Putin and Erdoğan, we don’t rule them out in the near future,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters ahead of the Istanbul talks with Zelensky, which began on Friday.

Russia, frustrated by the implementation of some aspects of the grain transfer agreement, has threatened not to agree to an extension beyond July 17.

Türkiye, which is a NATO member, managed to maintain friendly relations with both Ukraine and Russia during the 16-month-old war, and last year helped broker a prisoner exchange agreement.

Türkiye hasn’t joined its Western allies in imposing economic sanctions on Russia, yet it has helped arm Ukraine and called for respect for its sovereignty.

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