Erdogan, Zelensky hold talks in Istanbul

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday met with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky in the Turkish city of Istanbul, the Turkish presidency said.

   This is Zelensky’s first visit to Türkiye since the conflict broke out between his country and Russia in February 2022, but he has often spoken on the phone with Erdogan, whose country has been pushing for peace talks between Russia and Ukraine.

   The two presidents met at night at the Vahdettin Palace on the Asian side of the city. The leaders are due to hold a press conference later.

   “Finishing a busy day in Türkiye,” Zelensky tweeted, followed by another tweet of an image of the two leaders shaking hands. “Coordination of positions on the peace formula, the NATO summit, security guarantees, and the grain initiative” were discussed, he said.

   The talks between the two leaders were expected to focus on the ongoing conflict and a deal that allows Ukraine to export grain and other agricultural products from its Black Sea ports. The deal brokered by Türkiye and the United Nations will expire on July 17 unless Russia agrees to its renewal.

   Reconstruction of Ukraine and defence contracts between Turkish and Ukrainian companies also figured high in his talks with Erdogan, Zelensky said.

   The visit also comes ahead of a NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, next week, where Western leaders within the military alliance will meet on a range of topics, including Ukraine’s membership bids.

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