Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday visited Turkey which has sought to revive Russia-Ukraine peace talks and ways to ensure safe navigation in the Black Sea.

Lavrov attended part of the annual diplomatic forum in the Mediterranean resort of Antalya where he met Turkish counterpart Hakan Fidan.

The Russia-Ukraine war was a key talking point at the forum that runs from Friday to Sunday, though Russia’s top diplomat is to leave again Saturday.

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Ankara has carefully maintained ties with its two Black Sea neighbours.

“Turkey, along with Hungary, remains one of the last countries in the (NATO) Atlantic Alliance to maintain dialogue with Moscow,” said Sinan Ulgen, director of the Istanbul-based Edam think tank.

“In a geopolitical context modified by the war, Turkey is careful to keep this role for the future, hoping to capitalise on it during possible peace talks,” he added.

Turkey is seeking to revive a 2022 peace effort when top negotiators from the rivals met in Istanbul.

“At the current stage of the war, we need to seriously look for ways to bring the parties together,” Fidan said in opening remarks at the Antalya forum.

“We are ready, as yesterday, to make every effort to facilitate peace negotiations,” he added.

Fidan told Lavrov during their meeting on the margins of the gathering that Turkey was ready to do its best for the resumption of dialogue between Russia and Ukraine, a Turkish diplomatic source told AFP.

Lavrov acknowledged Ankara’s efforts but said the conditions that prompted the war “remained unchanged,” the source added.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan this week floated the idea of a new secure mechanism for the safe navigation of commercial vessels in the Black Sea.

Turkey, with the United Nations, was heavily involved in the establishment of a secure corridor to ship Ukrainian grain and agricultural products under a 2022 deal. It was abandoned last year after Russia refused to renew it.

With AFP