Face-to-Face Talks Resume With ‘Fresh Hope for Peace’ in Ukraine

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Face-to-face peace talks have resumed as negotiators from Russia and Ukraine met in the Turkish capital Istanbul in a search for common ground that would put an end to the war that has killed thousands and driven millions from their homes.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan welcomed the delegates, saying that “stopping this tragedy” was up to them.

“We hope that your meetings and your consultations will be auspicious for your countries, for our region, and for all of humanity,” Erdogan told the delegates at the start of the talks.

NATO member Turkey shares a maritime border with Ukraine and Russia in the Black Sea, has good ties with both, and has sought to mediate the conflict. Turkey-mediated talks in Antalya several weeks ago between the foreign ministers of both sides led to no progress on a ceasefire.

The Turkish president said he had spoken by phone in recent days with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, with Erdogan saying their conversations had revived expectations for a negotiated settlement.

“In line with the instructions from your leaders, the negotiations that you are running have given fresh hope for peace,” Erdogan told the negotiators ahead of Tuesday’s discussions.

In a video address ahead of the talks, Zelenskyy said his country is prepared to declare its neutrality, a key demand on Moscow’s part, and is open to compromise on the fate of the Donbas, the contested region in eastern Ukraine.

“A new round of negotiations is ahead, because we are looking for peace. Really. Without delay,” Zelenskyy said.

Ukraine’s priorities for the talks are well known, he said, with the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity “beyond doubt” and meaningful security guarantees “mandatory.”

“Our goal is obvious—peace and the restoration of normal life,” Zelenskyy said.

In an interview with a number of Russian media outlets, Zelenskyy said that security guarantees, Ukrainian neutrality, and the country’s nuclear-free status are the most important issues in talks to put an end to the war.

By Tom Ozimek

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