Russia’s Lavrov arrives in Turkey, will meet with Erdogan: Official

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov arrived in Turkey on Thursday, a Turkish official told AFP, for talks that include the future of a key deal that allows grain exports from Ukrainian ports through a safe corridor in the Black Sea.

Lavrov met with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu during a fast-breaking dinner in the capital Ankara.

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He is due to address a joint news conference with Cavusoglu and meet with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

NATO member Turkey, which has good ties with its two Black Sea neighbors, is pushing Russia and Ukraine to resume peace talks, hoping to build on past diplomatic endeavors last year.

“Despite the complication of the international situation, the Russian-Turkish political dialogue, primarily at the level of the heads of the two states, continues,” the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement ahead of the visit.

Lavrov, who last visited Turkey in June, will also discuss with Turkish officials the grain deal, which the Russian foreign ministry said was extended “as a gesture of goodwill for another 60 days.”

Turkey has pushed for a 120-day extension in compliance with the original agreement.

Ukraine is one of the world’s top grain producers.

The deal brokered by Ankara and the United Nations in July 2022 has allowed the export of more than 25 million tons of grain.

But Moscow wants the implementation of the second agreement on the export of Russian food and fertilizers despite Western sanctions.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Erdogan have been closely engaged either through telephone, or face-to-face meetings.

Last year, the two leaders met four times in Sochi, Tehran, Samarkand and in Astana.

Russia is also pushing Turkey and Syria to normalize their troubled ties after years of tensions since the 2011 civil war, which has left 500,000 people dead and displaced millions.

Ankara has long supported opposition groups calling for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s ouster.

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