Ankara (Times Of Ocean)- Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that he is “most likely” to meet with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin this week.
Istanbul or Turkey’s capital Ankara “would be the solution point for steps to be taken” to ease tensions in eastern Ukraine, Erdogan told reporters after offering Eid prayers in Istanbul.
In the eastern part of the war-ravaged country, Russian forces intensified their attacks two months after Moscow began its war on Ukraine.
The Turkish government, which has friendly relations with both sides, is actively involved in diplomatic efforts for a cease-fire between Ukraine and Russia. In a meeting in Istanbul last month, it proposed a summit between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Russia and Ukraine held talks in Istanbul on March 29, seen as a breakthrough in halting hostilities that began on Feb. 24.
The two foreign ministers of Russia and Ukraine also met in Antalya earlier in March, the first time that senior government officials from both sides have met since the start of the war, now over two months ago.
Also, Turkish officials have discussed the issue of humanitarian corridors in Ukraine for evacuating stranded civilians and wounded persons.
“We are taking all kinds of steps in the process of accelerating evacuations in Ukraine,” Erdogan said.
So far, Turkey has helped dozens of civilians evacuate the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol.
Both Ukraine and Russia desire some support in grain exports from Turkey, and he said these issues will be discussed with Putin.
The UN estimates that 2,899 civilians have been killed and 3,235 injured in Ukraine since the war with Russia began. However, the real number may be much higher.
UNHCR’s report shows that more than 5.4 million people have fled the country, and 7.7 million are internally displaced.
President Erdogan stated that the ties between Turkey and Saudi Arabia will change dramatically in the near future, adding that they discussed it with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during their bilateral meeting last week.
“There has been a very positive development regarding the Arab nations,” he said, adding that he believes the arrival of Saudi visitors to Turkey will increase and accelerate.
According to Turkish tourism industry insiders, the number of Saudi tourists visiting Turkey in 2019 was around 550,000, but dropped to nearly 80,000 in 2020, and may increase to 400,000 this year.
Erdogan said Saudis’ understanding of tourism in Turkey is “very positive,” stressing: “I believe the tourism season will be very good in Turkey.”
Mehmet Nuri Ersoy, the Turkish Culture and Tourism Minister, will continue to work in this field.
Ankara and Riyadh have shown a desire to develop bilateral relations at the highest level, Erdogan said on Saturday. He spoke during his flight home from Saudi Arabia.