Russia’s Lavrov holds talks in Turkey
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held talks in Turkey on Friday on extending a deal that allows Ukraine to export grain through a safe corridor in the Black Sea.
Lavrov, who arrived in Ankara on Thursday, joined Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, at a dinner breaking the fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan before the pair headed into talks on Friday.
They are due to address a joint news conference at the presidential palace where Lavrov will also meet Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The Russian foreign ministry said Lavrov, who last visited Turkey in June, will discuss the grain deal, which Moscow says it extended “as a gesture of goodwill for another 60 days”.
Turkey is pushing for a 120-day extension in compliance with the original agreement, which was negotiated by Ankara and the United Nations last July.
NATO member Turkey, which has good ties with both Russia and Ukraine, has pushed both countries to resume peace talks after negotiations broke down last year.
Ukraine is one of the world’s top grain producers, and the Russian invasion in February 2022 blocked 20 million tonnes of grain in port until the deal was agreed.
The agreement has allowed the export of more than 25 million tonnes of grain, but Moscow wants a second agreement on exporting Russian food and fertilisers despite Western sanctions.
Russia is also pushing Turkey and Syria to normalise ties after years of tensions since the Syrian civil war, which has left 500,000 people dead and displaced millions since 2011.
Ankara has supported rebel groups fighting to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“The foreign ministers will pay special attention to the normalisation of Syrian-Turkish relations launched in Moscow,” the Russian ministry said.
Iran is also involved in normalisation talks.
Erdogan’s foreign policy aide, Ibrahim Kalin, said this week that deputy foreign ministers of Iran, Russia, Syria and Turkey met in Moscow, to be followed by further talks between foreign, defence ministers and intelligence chiefs.