President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Friday said he still hoped that Russian leader Vladimir Putin would visit Turkey in August as Ankara works to re-establish a deal that allows Ukraine to export its grain via the Black Sea, Agence France-Presse reported.
“There’s no precise date yet, but my foreign minister and head of intelligence are holding talks,” Erdoğan told reporters after Friday prayers at an İstanbul mosque.
“I believe this visit will take place in August,” he said.
Turkey was a key player in the now-collapsed deal that allowed for safe passage of Ukrainian grain shipments via the Black Sea.
The accord, brokered by Ankara and the United Nations in July 2022, ended last month after Moscow refused to renew it.
Erdoğan on Wednesday urged Putin in a phone call not to further escalate tensions after Moscow struck facilities vital for grain shipments from Ukraine.
On Friday Erdoğan said he was on the same page with Russia over the need to export the grain to less developed African countries.
“We will turn the grain from the Black Sea into flour and transport it to poor, less developed, African countries,” he said.
Last month Erdoğan announced that Putin would visit Turkey in August during a joint press conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
But Moscow was annoyed when Zelensky returned from İstanbul with five top commanders from the Azov regiment who were supposed to have remained in Turkey until the end of the conflict under a prisoner exchange deal with Moscow.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said at the time that it was a “direct violation” of the agreement with Turkey.
NATO member Turkey had friendly ties with both Russia and Ukraine throughout the war.
Ankara has refrained from joining Western sanctions imposed on Russia but supplied arms to Ukraine.