Turkish foreign minister to visit Russia on Thursday

AFP , Wednesday 30 Aug 2023

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will host his Turkish counterpart for a two-day visit beginning Thursday, Moscow has announced, after Ankara's top diplomat held talks with Ukrainian officials last week.

Turkey s Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan
File Photo: Turkey s Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan stands as Turkey s President unveils the country s new cabinet at Cankaya Palace, on June 3, 2023. AFP


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is also due to visit Russia soon for talks with President Vladimir Putin on reviving a deal allowing safe grain shipments across the Black Sea.

Maria Zakharova, Russia's foreign ministry spokeswoman, told reporters that Lavrov and Hakan Fidan would discuss "the situation in the region, particularly in Ukraine, Syria, Libya, Transcaucasia".

Erdogan has used his good relations with Moscow and Kyiv to try to bring the two sides into formal peace talks.

NATO member Turkey helped negotiate the only major agreement signed by the warring sides since the February 2022 invasion, a deal to ship grain from three Ukrainian ports across the Black Sea.

Russia and Ukraine are major grain exporters and their initial deal helped bring down global food prices that were contributing to starvation in Africa and parts of the Middle East.

The grain deal, known as the Black Sea Grain Initiative, was signed by Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the UN in Istanbul in July 2022.

It aims to ensure the safe passage of tens of millions of tons of Ukrainian grains to many areas worldwide, including the Middle East, which heavily relies on Russian grain imports.

Moscow scuppered the agreement in early July 2023 citing its non-compliance with provisions aimed at easing Russia's own exports of agricultural products and fertiliser.

Russia has since launched repeated attacks on Ukrainian port infrastructure and warned that it may consider any ships in the Black Sea as military targets and Ukraine now depends on land routes and a shallow river port that severely limits its grain export volumes.

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