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Turkey urged to be one of guarantors for ceasefire deal with Russia

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LVIV: Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has asked Turkey to be a guarantor of any future deal with Russia, along with the UN Security Council’s five permanent members and Germany.

“Ukraine made an offer on the collective security agreement: P5 (the UN Security Council’s five permanent members), Turkey and Germany. The Russian Federation has no objection,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday during a visit to the Ukrainian city of Lviv.

The five permanent UN Security Council members are China, France, Russia, Britain, and the United States.

Speaking after a closed-door meeting, Cavusoglu thanked his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba for having him in such “difficult days.”

He said hopes for a ceasefire have increased a bit more after visits to both Russia and Ukraine, adding there is a possibility for Russian and Ukrainian leaders to meet if they agree on issues in which Ankara sees rapprochement.

“We wanted to come to Lviv, especially during these difficult days, to show our support to our strategic partner Ukraine,” he said.

Cavusoglu added that he was devastated overseeing many people waiting on the road and at border gates while on his way to Lviv via Poland.

He said that he hoped for a humanitarian ceasefire in the southern Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, where he said more than 100 Turkish citizens were still located.

Cavusoglu said he had proposed a 24-hour ceasefire to be monitored by humanitarian groups.

Emphasising that the conflict must end as soon as possible, Cavusoglu once again noted that the bloodshed, the tears must be stopped, while adding that Turkey has “been intensifying efforts in this direction since the first day.”

Cavusoglu emphasised Turkey’s full support to Ukraine’s territorial integrity, independence, and sovereignty, as he said the “entire world sees the struggle of Ukraine and the Ukrainian people against this war.”

Prior to a closed-door meeting, Kuleba voiced appreciation over Turkey’s active role in building peace between the two warring countries.

While expressing regrets over holding the meeting under current circumstances, Kuleba told his Turkish counterpart that his commitment, courage, and personal visit to Lviv prove that Turkey is an active player and that “it is ready to invest in bringing peace” to the Ukraine-Russia relations.

Kuleba noted that he has held close contact with Cavusoglu even prior to the Turkish minister’s visit to the Russian capital Moscow on Wednesday, and added that they had discussed over the phone ways to put an end to the war.

Ukraine and its people appreciate the “principled position” that Turkey has taken since the eruption of the war, he added.

“We are looking forward to fruitful discussion, and discuss next steps we can take in order to achieve peace,” Kuleba added.

Meanwhile, about 30 Turkish citizens remain sheltering in a mosque in Ukraine’s Mariupol as thousands of people have evacuated the besieged port city via a humanitarian corridor since Monday.

According to Ismail Hacioglu, head of the Sultan Suleyman Mosque Association in Mariupol, roughly 50 Turkish citizens have escaped the city over the last two days, including most of the more than 80 Turks who had sought refuge in the mosque.

“Eight cars left the mosque on Wednesday – four had Turkish citizens inside, four had Muslims from other nationalities that were sheltering there. Every car has seven to eight people in it,” Hacioglu, who is helping to coordinate the evacuation, told western media.

As of Thursday afternoon, the convoy had not yet passed the city of Tokmak, about 175km (109 miles) away. Hacioglu said they were headed for Uman, central Ukraine, where they will stay for one night, and the Turkish consulate is arranging everything.

Tokmak is one of six cities in the region that have been occupied by Russian troops.

“Russian troops are harassing them. Last night, they stopped vehicles just before Tokmak. They didn’t let people get out of their cars and the women and children froze all night,” Hacioglu said.

“Even though some women asked to go out to go to the toilet, they told them to open the door and just do it right there.”

Hacioglu’s wife, son and cousin were among those who evacuated, as well as the mosque’s imam, Mehmet Yuce. Hacioglu said he gets 200 desperate calls a day from people desperate to find news of their relatives.

Fears for the safety of Mariupol’s remaining Turkish residents rose after the Ukrainian foreign ministry announced last week that the mosque had been hit as fighting intensified in the city centre, but Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said a day later that it remained intact.

There are believed to be 34 children among the Turkish mosque group, although it is yet unclear how many of them have left the city.

According to council figures released via their official Telegram channel on Thursday, 6,500 private cars carrying an estimated 30,000 people have managed to leave Mariupol so far this week.

The city has no electricity, gas or water supply and remains under heavy and sustained attack from Russian weaponry.

Mayor Vadym Boychenko described the situation as “critical”, with 80 percent of the city’s housing damaged. Food supplies are low and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has warned of a shortage of medicines for chronic illnesses such as diabetes and cancer.

The evacuation comes after more than a week of failed attempts to secure safe passage out from the city for civilians, with previous attempts stalling after Russia continued its bombardment.

It is feared that between 200,000 and 300,000 people could still be trapped in the city.

Aside from the 30 Turks who remain in the mosque, another 100 are thought to remain in Mariupol as a whole, unable to be contacted due to a near full communications blackout.

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