Ukraine deserves NATO membership: Erdogan
Erdogan said he expects Russian President Vladimir Putin to come for an official visit to Turkey in August.
Following a 2.5-hour meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Friday at the Vahdettin Mansion in Istanbul, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Ukraine is fully deserving of NATO membership.
The Turkish head of state said that Ukraine "deserved" NATO membership and that Ankara hopes the conflict comes to a peaceful resolution, noting that Ankara plans to continue negotiations to end the conflict.
Erdogan further said he expects Russian President Vladimir Putin to come for an official visit to Turkey in August, saying that his visit is going to take place "in the coming month" and that he could hold a personal meeting with Putin in the next two months.
The Turkish leader said he expects to discuss with Putin the Black Sea grain initiative either by phone or in person, noting that he "hoped" for the extension of the deal.
Discussions pertaining to the prisoner swap program will take place in a one-to-one meeting with the Russian leader, he added.
Ahead of Friday's meeting, Zelensky said that he expects to discuss with Erdogan a number of pressing issues on Ukraine's agenda, including the Black Sea grain initiative, the prisoner swap program, and Ukraine's bid for NATO membership.
"We have several issues. The grain initiative. A very important issue of support for Ukraine in NATO. The exchange of prisoners. There are many things that we will talk about, and I believe that we will have agreements with the President of Turkiye," Zelensky said yesterday.
The trip to Turkey marked Zelensky's first since April 2021. The last time the two leaders met was in August 2022, in the Ukrainian city of Lvov.
On Friday, the Kremlin said that Russia does not rule out contacts between Putin and Erdogan in the near future.
Peskov added that relations with Ankara are in very good standing with Moscow and said that Erdogan has made considerable contributions in his mediation efforts -- particularly through the implementation of the Black Sea grain initiative which he brokered with the UN.