Russia says US is not taking a constructive approach to Istanbul talks
Russian and US diplomats met in Istanbul on Friday
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia on Monday accused the United States of not taking a constructive approach to diplomatic talks in Istanbul, but said the Turkish city was a convenient place for such contacts to take place.
A meeting between US Central Intelligence Agency Director William Burns and Sergei Naryshkin, head of Russia’s SVR foreign intelligence service, in Ankara last month triggered speculation about back channel talks between Moscow and Washington.
President Vladimir Putin said last week that the CIA meeting was requested by US President Joe Biden and that the CIA-SVR contacts were continuing.
Russian and US diplomats met in Istanbul on Friday to discuss a number of technical issues in their relationship such as visas, Russia’s deputy foreign minister and the US Embassy in Ankara said.
"Istanbul is a convenient place for such contacts," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin was quoted as saying by the state RIA Novosti news agency on Monday.
"I can say that any contacts are useful, but, unfortunately, we do not see a constructive approach from the American side aimed at concrete results," Vershinin was quoted as saying.
Since Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has emerged as one of the key brokers between Russia on the one side and Ukraine and the West on the other.
Erdogan played an important role in convincing Putin to resume participation in the U.N.-brokered Black Sea grain deal last month after a drone attack on a Russian naval base in Russian-annexed Crimea, according to diplomats.
While Moscow and Washington publicly cast each other as major threats to global stability, they have contacts on a variety of levels.
Besides the CIA-SVR talks, their embassies operate and their diplomats have contacts in Turkey, the Federal Security Service (FSB) conducted prisoner swap talks, and their military chiefs speak at times of crisis.
A deal is "quite close" to resume Russian ammonia exports via a pipeline to a Black Sea port in Ukraine, U.N. aid chief Martin Griffiths told a Reuters NEXT event on Nov. 1, stressing that it was "almost more important" than ensuring grain exports.
After talks with the Turkish side in Istanbul, Russia’s Vershinin said that Turkey was playing a positive role in the grain deal.
"With regard to the export of fertilizers, ammonia, we must talk about the commercial component," Vershinin said. "Russia is one of the largest producers of ammonia and other necessary fertilizers."