Israeli president to visit Turkiye in March: Turkish president

Speaking to reporters ahead of Ukraine trip, Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Isaac Herzog's visit would happen 'in mid-March'.

Israeli president to visit Turkiye in March: Turkish president

Israel's President Isaac Herzog will pay an official visit to Turkiye in March, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday.

Speaking to reporters ahead of a trip to Ukraine, Erdogan said Herzog's expected visit to Turkiye would happen "in mid-March."

Russian President Vladimir Putin will also come to Turkiye on an official visit after visiting China, Erdogan added.

Putin's visit to China is scheduled for Friday.

Commenting on the recent rise in tensions between Moscow and Kyiv, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkiye is "closely following" developments.

"On every platform, we voice Turkiye's support for Ukraine's territorial integrity and sovereignty," added the Turkish leader.

Erdogan urged all parties to exercise self-restraint and engage in dialogue to ensure peace in the region.

Underlining the need to resolve disputes peacefully and on the basis of international law, Erdogan reiterated Ankara's readiness to do its part to establish an atmosphere of peace and trust in the region.

Ukraine and Russia have been locked in conflict since hostilities in the eastern Donbas region broke out in 2014 after Russia illegally annexed the Crimean Peninsula.

Russia has also recently amassed tens of thousands of troops near Ukraine's borders, prompting fears that the Kremlin could be planning another military offensive against the former Soviet republic.

Moscow has denied it is preparing to invade and said its troops are there for exercises.

Turkiye-Ukraine relations

Erdogan noted that this visit would be especially significant as Turkiye and Ukraine mark their 30th year of diplomatic relations on Thursday.

"We'll discuss all aspects of our bilateral relations during our meetings. We'll also exchange views on important regional and international issues on our common agenda," said Erdogan.

Serious progress has been made in Turkiye's relations with Ukraine in recent years, especially in the fields of trade, investment, tourism, and the defense industry, said Erdogan.

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, Turkiye hosted more than 2 million Ukrainian visitors last year, Erdogan said.

Last year, the two countries' bilateral trade volume increased by nearly 60% compared to 2020, reaching $7.5 billion.

Erdogan said Turkiye is taking firm steps towards its target of raising the trade volume to $10 billion.

The Turkish president also said he would pay special attention to the situation of the Crimean Tatars, which is one of the main elements of bilateral relations with Ukraine and will be at the top of the agenda during Thursday's meetings in Ukrainian capital Kyiv.

"I believe our talks in Kyiv will contribute significantly to the strengthening of bilateral relations with Ukraine," said Erdogan.

Commenting on 12 irregular migrants who were found frozen to death on Wednesday after being pushed back by Greek forces into Turkiye, Erdogan said it is unacceptable to remain indifferent to such an incident.

Turkiye's Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu announced the deaths of the irregular migrants, who had been among migrants "pushed back" by Greek border forces and stripped of their clothes and shoes.

Erdogan and first lady Emine Erdogan departed from Turkiye on Thursday to visit Ukraine at the invitation of President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The Turkish president will hold a one-on-one meeting with Zelensky after an official welcoming ceremony at the Mariinsky Palace.

Later, Erdogan is expected to attend the 10th meeting of the two countries' bilateral High-Level Strategic Council.

Following the meeting, Erdogan and Zelensky are expected to sign various agreements and address a joint news conference in Kyiv.

Erdogan will be accompanied by a high-level delegation including Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Donmez, and the head of Defense Industries Presidency, Ismail Demir.

Hüseyin Demir

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