istanbul: For the first time since Russia's invasion, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will visit Turkey on Friday to meet with counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan. After their talks in Istanbul, the two leaders could hold a joint press conference, according to the Turkish presidency.
The discussion is expected to centre on the impending expiration of a deal to transport grain from Ukraine across the Black Sea and the upcoming NATO summit.
But analysts anticipate Zelensky to pressure Erdogan to approve Sweden's NATO membership before the alliance summit takes place in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius on July 11–12.
Turkiye is opposing Sweden's bid because of a long-running disagreement over Stockholm's alleged lack of concern for purported Kurdish militants who reside in the Nordic nation.
Zelensky and Erdogan both favour extending a deal with Russia that was mediated by the UN and Turkey and allowed Ukraine to export grain to international markets throughout the conflict.
Erdogan has made an effort to mediate the end of the war by utilising his positive working relationships with both Zelensky and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Turkiye organised two preliminary rounds of negotiations and is pushing for additional meetings.
However, NATO member Turkey's growing economic ties with Russia and its opposition to the bloc's expansion worry Western governments.