ANKARA, Sept 21 (Reuters) – Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said he does not agree with the negative approach other leaders are showing towards his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, Turkish broadcasters quoted him as saying on Thursday.
Speaking to reporters in New York after attending the United Nations General Assembly, Erdogan said Russia was not a country that could be disregarded and repeated he was hopeful a solution could be found to revive the Black Sea grain initiative, which Moscow quit in July.
“Both leaders and prime ministers have negative approaches towards Putin. Of course, we don’t carry or reflect this stance. I also don’t find these approaches correct, because Russia is not a regular country,” Erdogan was cited as saying.
“Be it with its surface area or its position in the world, Russia has a clear place. In terms of grain production, Russia is one of the few countries in the world now. Now, you cannot disregard a country like this,” he said.
NATO ally Turkey has sought to maintain good relations with both Moscow and Kyiv since Russia invaded Ukraine last year. It has provided military support to Ukraine and voiced support for its territorial integrity, but also opposes sanctions on Russia in principle.
Ankara has been working to convince Russia to return to the so-called Black Sea Grain Initiative, which it brokered with the United Nations.
After Moscow’s withdrawal ended a year of protected exports of grain from Ukrainian ports amid the war, Erdogan has said he would work with Putin, with whom he has good personal ties, to revive the deal, calling on Western countries to do their part.
Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu and Ece Toksabay
Editing by Chris Reese and Alistair Bell
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