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The UN chief passed through Turkey on his way to Ukraine and Russia

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President Recep Tayyip Erdogan received UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in Ankara amid Turkey’s mediation efforts to end the war between Ukraine and Russia.

The closed-door meeting was just before Guterres’ visits to Russia and Ukraine.

Guterres and Erdogan reaffirmed their “common goal” of ending the war in Ukraine “as soon as possible,” the United Nations said on Monday.

The leaders “stressed the urgent need for effective access through humanitarian corridors to evacuate civilians and provide much-needed assistance to affected communities,” a UN statement said.

Guterres voiced support for “Turkey’s ongoing diplomatic efforts over the war in Ukraine”, noting that he and Erdogan “agreed to stay in touch to follow ongoing initiatives”.

Earlier on April 18, UN aid chief Martin Griffiths said Turkey had been a valuable host to humanitarian talks between Ukraine and Russia.

Today, Guterres traveled to Moscow to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. On Thursday, he will also visit Kyiv in an attempt to mediate an end to the Russian invasion, which has killed thousands and driven more than 10 million Ukrainians from their homes since February 24.

Guerres, an associate spokesman for Guterres, said the UN chief would go to Moscow today to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin and have a working lunch with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, hoping to discuss what could be done to bring peace to Ukraine.

Guterres will meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday, as well as with Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and UN officials to discuss stepping up humanitarian aid efforts.

The voyage comes when the war enters its third month, with fierce fighting continuing in eastern Ukraine and dozens of civilian and Ukrainian soldiers trapped in the besieged port city of Mariupol.

Zelensky on Saturday criticized Guterres’ decision to head to Moscow before Kyiv, saying “there is no justice and logic in that order.”

“The war is in Ukraine, there are no bodies on the streets of Moscow. It would be logical to come to Ukraine first, to see the people there, as well as the consequences of the occupation, “Zelensky said.

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