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ANKARA: Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, speaking alongside his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Moscow on Wednesday, said the war in Ukraine must stop and Ankara would press on diplomatic efforts to arrange a lasting ceasefire.

Cavusoglu told reporters after a meeting with Lavrov that NATO member Turkey hoped Russian President Vladimir Putin would meet Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy as a step toward peace.

“The war must stop, people must not die. I came here to Moscow with this understanding today,” Cavusoglu said.

Turkey, Armenia hold ‘constructive’ talks on mending ties

“We have shared our concerns in a sincere way and done our part to ease tensions and open the stage for diplomacy,” he said. “We would like to host this (Putin-Zelenskiy) meeting when the situation comes to that point…for a lasting ceasefire.”

Lavrov said there were no obstacles to a meeting between Putin and Zelenskiy but that it would only take place to seal a specific agreement.

Last week Lavrov and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba held talks in Turkey in the first such meeting since Russia invaded Ukraine.

Cavusoglu said Turkey’s priority was evacuating citizens remaining in the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol after more than 15,000 Turks had already left the country, which is to the north across the Black Sea.

Moscow has denied targeting civilian areas in what it calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine.

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