Ukraine wants Turkey to be among countries offering security guarantees to Ukraine as part of any deal with Russia to end the war, Ukrainian and Turkish foreign ministers said on March 17.
The top diplomats made the comments while speaking at a briefing after the talks in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that Turkey was also helping to set up direct talks between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu that he hoped for a humanitarian ceasefire in the southern Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, where he said more than 100 Turkish citizens were still located.
Çavuşoğlu said that there is a possibility for Russian and Ukrainian leaders to meet if they agree on issues in which Ankara sees rapprochement. He said that Ukraine offered Turkey to be one of the guarantors regarding the security dimension of a possible deal and that Russia has no objection.
"We held our strategic planning meeting here in Lviv on Oct. 8 (2021). We wanted to come to Lviv, especially during these difficult days, to show our support to our strategic partner Ukraine,” he said.
He stressed that thousands of civilians have died since the war began on Feb. 24, while adding that more than 3 million innocent people had to flee the country.
Çavuşoğlu also added that he was devastated over seeing many people waiting on the road and at border gates while on his way to Lviv via Poland.
Emphasizing that the war must end as soon as possible, Çavuşoğlu once again noted that the bloodshed, the tears must be stopped, while adding that Turkey has "been intensifying efforts in this direction since the first day."
"With this thought, we brought my friend Kuleba and Russian Foreign Minister (Sergey) Lavrov together in Antalya. I would like to thank Kuleba for his constructive approach at that meeting," he said.
A high-level meeting between Lavrov and Kuleba was hosted by Çavuşoğlu in Antalya last week. The talks were the first high-level interaction between Russia and Ukraine since the war began on Feb. 24.
Turks evacuated from Ukraine's Mariupol
Meanwhile, sixty-five people, Turkish citizens and their relatives, were evacuated from Mariupol, Turkey's state-owned Anadolu news agency reported on March 17.
Ukraine's foreign ministry said last week that Russian forces had shelled a mosque in Mariupol, where more than 80 adults and children, including Turks, had taken refuge.
Çavuşoğlu subsequently said he had sought help from his Russian counterpart on the issue. It was not immediately clear whether the evacuees were those who had sought refuge in the mosque.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan offered in a phone call with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on March 17 to host him and Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelenskiy for talks, according to his office.
The statement said Erdoğan told Putin that agreement on certain issues could require a meeting between the leaders. Erdoğan also said a lasting ceasefire could lead the way to a long-term solution, it said.
(Reporting by Daren Butler; editing by Jonathan Oatis)