Erdogan still hopes to host three-way Ukraine summit with Putin

ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reaffirmed his desire to host his Russian and Ukrainian counterparts for a three-way summit in Turkey to ease tensions in Ukraine in comments published Wednesday.

Erdogan earlier this month visited Kyiv and held talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, during which he offered to host a peace summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

He said Zelensky looked “favourably” on a three-way summit in an interview with Turkish journalists on board his plane returning to Turkey from a United Arab Emirates visit.

“And if Mr Putin also looks on this positively, we can, God willing, come together in Istanbul or Ankara,” Erdogan said, quoted by NTV broadcaster.

He also said he would “personally find out” Putin’s view on a meeting in a phone call but did not say when they would speak.

He previously said Putin had agreed to visit Turkey but the Russian side never provided a date.

“It is not a good omen for war to really start in this region. It will not be good for the health of the region,” said Erdogan who has tried to maintain good relations with Russia and Ukraine throughout the latest crisis.

Turkey has in the past two years also sought to improve relations with regional rivals including Israel and Gulf countries such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

There had been high hopes for a Saudi visit this month by Erdogan but instead he offered vague assurances that there was dialogue between the two countries.

“We’re continuing our positive dialogue with Saudi Arabia. In the period ahead, we want to progress with concrete steps. We want to develop this process positively with Saudi Arabia,” Erdogan said.

Turkey and Saudi Arabia’s strained ties worsened significantly after the brutal killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018.

It appeared talks with Israel had been more fruitful as Erdogan said Israeli President Isaac Herzog was planning to visit Turkey in March.

“Of course we welcome this visit. God willing it will be good for Turkey-Israel relations for such a step to be taken after such a long period.”