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Turkey to host three-way talks with Russia, Ukraine in Antalya

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba will meet and discuss the ongoing conflict on March 10 in Turkey’s resort town of Antalya, in the presence of Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu upon the two sides’ demand.

“Currently, the 10th [of March] is planned. Let’s see – if he flies to Antalya, then I’ll fly too. Let’s sit down, let’s talk,” Kuleba said in a video message.

The meeting will be held on the sidelines of the eighth Istanbul Mediation Conference ahead of the Antalya Diplomacy Forum slated between March 11 and 13. It will be the first ministerial and highest-level meeting between Ukraine and Russia since the latter started a comprehensive military operation on Feb. 24.

“The meeting, planned to be held on March 10, will be held primarily thanks to Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu,” Ukrainian news agency UNIAN quoted Kuleba as saying.

“I do not know whether [President Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan convinced [Russian President Vladimir] Putin or Lavrov, but the meeting will take place,” he said.

Lavrov has been avoiding any meeting with him either one-on-one or as part of the Normandy Quartet for two years, Kuleba said, adding, “Now he suddenly agreed, maybe he wants to convey something. We will listen, but I will talk to him with the understanding that Lavrov is one of the architects of the aggression against Ukraine.”

Asked whether Russian-occupied Crimea and Donbas will be discussed during the meeting, Kuleba said that Ukraine is not in a position to give up anything in the negotiations.

Lavrov will speak at the forum’s special session about the global situation and Russia’s views on current matters, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said, noting that his schedule includes bilateral meetings.

Turkey has long been making efforts to mediate between Ukraine and Russia, even before the war started on Feb. 24.

“We want this meeting to be a turning point and a step taken toward peace and stability,” Çavuşoğlu told reporters in Ankara on March 7.

Turkey earlier had offered several occasions to host talks. Erdoğan invited the leaders of Russia and Ukraine to Istanbul for face-to-face talks in a bid to defuse tensions ahead of the military intervention of Russia.

Erdoğan and Putin spoke over the phone on March 6, during which the Turkish president proposed to his counterpart to open a path of peace together and launch talks for a peaceful resolution of the problems.

Meanwhile, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar had a telephone conversation with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Shoigu, on March 8. Akar asked support for Turkish commercial ships waiting at Russian ports to reach Turkey safely, the Defense Ministry said in a statement.

The negotiations between Russia and Ukraine will make a significant contribution to the establishment of peace, stability and improvement of the humanitarian situation, and thus a permanent solution will be possible, he told Shoigu.

Stating that it is important to declare a ceasefire across Ukraine as soon as possible to prevent further loss of life and ensure peace and stability, Akar said Turkey welcomes efforts to open humanitarian corridors for the evacuation of civilians.

“We expect positive developments in these matters in the coming hours and days,” Akar said in a separate statement on March 9.

Elaborating his phone conversation with the Russian minister, Akar said one general topic of the issue was the realization of the ceasefire as soon as possible and establishing peace and tranquility.

“On the other hand, the security of Turkey’s two planes in Ukraine. We also have ships in Russian ports,” he said, referring to Turkish cargo planes besieged at a Ukrainian airport.

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