Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Friday he still hoped Russian President Vladimir Putin would visit Türkiye in August, as Ankara makes efforts to revive Ukraine’s grain export agreement across the Black Sea that Russia withdrew from.

“There is no set date yet, but the Turkish foreign minister and intelligence chief are in talks,” Erdoğan told reporters after Friday prayers in an Istanbul mosque.

“I think the visit will take place in August,” he added.

Türkiye played a central role in the now-defunct Black Sea Initiative, as this agreement allowed the safe export of Ukrainian grain across the Black Sea.

The effects of the agreement, which concluded in July 2022 under the auspices of Ankara and the United Nations, ended last month after Moscow refused to renew it.

Erdoğan urged his Russian counterpart Wednesday, in a phone call, not to escalate tensions after Moscow struck vital grain export facilities in Ukraine.

On Friday, Erdoğan said he agreed with Russia on the need to send grain exports to Africa’s least developed countries.

“We’ll turn the grains of the Black Sea into flour and transport them to the poor and less developed countries of Africa,” he stressed.

Erdoğan announced last month during a press conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that Putin might visit Türkiye in August.

Moscow was disturbed when Zelensky returned from Istanbul with five commanders of the Ukrainian Azov battalion, who were supposed to remain in Türkiye until the end of the conflict under a prisoner exchange agreement with Moscow.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that what happened was a direct violation of the agreement with Türkiye.

Türkiye has maintained good relations with Russia and Ukraine since the start of the conflict, and distanced itself from Western sanctions imposed on Russia, but has supplied arms to Ukraine.

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