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Erdogan to visit Russia to meet Putin in September: Reports

Turkish presidential sources tell media progress was made in resolving Black Sea grain deal stalemate, but declined to elaborate
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) meets Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) in Astana, on October 13, 2022. (AFP)
Turkish President Erdogan (L) meets Russian President Putin on the sidelines of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) in Astana, on 13 October 2022 (AFP)
By Ragip Soylu in Ankara

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan plans to visit Russia in September to meet his counterpart Vladimir Putin, Turkish presidential sources told journalists on Monday.

Erdogan earlier this month told journalists that he expects to host Putin in Turkey, but instead Erdogan will visit Russia to discuss the Black Sea grain deal, which Moscow withdrew from in July citing unmet written pledges by the UN and western powers.

A separate Turkish presidential source told Russian state agency Ria Novosti that Erdogan and Putin were likely to meet in September and the place of the proposed negotiations depends on the available schedule, and Russia as a place of meeting was not excluded.

Putin’s foreign trips had been restricted to former Soviet Union republics since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February last year, with the only exception being Iran, where the Russian army gets its supplies of kamikaze drones and other hardware.

Putin’s security concerns during a visit to a Nato ally might have played a role in avoiding Turkey.

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Turkish presidential sources told Turkish NTV that engagements to bring back Russia to the Black Sea grain deal have accelerated in recent days as Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan will visit both Russia and Ukraine in the next few days.

MEE reported that Fidan will be in Ukraine on Friday.

The sources added that they made some progress in the negotiations, but declined to elaborate.

Shipping routes

Last week, the Ukrainian navy announced in a formal statement that it had established temporary routes for merchant ships from Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea, namely Chornomorsk, Odessa and Pivdennyi.

A Ukrainian source familiar with the route told MEE the ships will sail to Romanian territorial waters and then follow the route towards Istanbul via Bulgarian territorial waters.

Turkey's foreign minister to visit Kyiv as Ukraine pushes for a new grain corridor
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The presidential sources told NTV that plans to exclude Russia from a new grain route “are not healthy”.

The sources added that reinstating the Black Sea grain deal is Turkey's priority, and they believe that new steps may be dangerous in the region where parties are already engaging in combat.

The first vessel that used Ukraine's Black Sea corridor safely reached Turkey’s Bosphorus Strait on Friday. The ship was not carrying grain.

The Hong Kong-flagged Joseph Schulte container ship left the Russian-blocked Ukrainian Black Sea port of Odessa earlier this week. It had been in the port since 23 February 2022, the day before Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

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