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Erdogan to meet Putin in Astana: Turkish official

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is likely to meet Russian leader Vladimir Putin on the margins of a regional summit in the Kazakh capital Astana this week, a Turkish official told AFP.

The official initially said the meeting would be on Wednesday, but later said it appeared Erdogan was likely to meet Putin on Thursday, according to the latest program.

Erdogan is scheduled to fly to Astana on Wednesday for talks with Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, said the Turkish official.

Turkey, which has stayed neutral throughout the conflict in Ukraine, has good relations with its two Black Sea neighbors — Russia and Ukraine.

Erdogan has not yet commented on mass Russian strikes across Ukraine on Monday, which Ukrainian emergency services said killed at least 19 people and wounded more than 100.

But Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu held a telephone call with Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba after the attacks, a Turkish diplomatic source said, without elaborating further.

Erdogan met Putin on the sidelines of a regional summit in Uzbekistan last month.

The Turkish leader still hopes to bring Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky together for truce talks that neither side particularly wants but which Turkish officials insist are essential and realistic.

NATO member Turkey has refrained from joining Western sanctions against Russia.

Erdogan is keen to boost trade with Moscow as he tries to stabilize the battered Turkish economy in the run up to elections next June.

Last month Ankara bowed to pressure from the United States and confirmed the last three Turkish banks still processing Russian card payments were pulling the plug.

The decision followed weeks of increasingly blunt warnings from Washington for Turkey to either limit economic ties with Russia or face the threat of sanctions itself.

Source: Arab News