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Russian and Ukrainian human rights commissioners to meet in Turkey this week

Ukrainian troops gather for a photo after being released in prisoner swap with Russia, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in an unknown location, Ukraine in this handout image released January 8, 2023. Andriy Yermak Via Telegram/Handout via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY.

The Russian and Ukrainian human rights commissioners will meet in Turkey this week, news agencies from both countries reported on Monday, for talks likely to include the possibility of further exchanges of prisoners of war.

Interfax quoted the Russian commissioner, Tatiana Moskalkova, as saying the meeting with her Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Lubinets would take place during an international forum in Turkey between Thursday and Saturday.

She said there had already been discussion of the "approximate agenda of our negotiations", but gave no details.

Ukraine's Ukrinform news agency quoted Lubinets as saying the main issue was "the return of our heroes and heroines", a reference to prisoner exchanges.

Russia and Ukraine have conducted numerous prisoner swaps - most recently on Sunday - in the course of the war, which is now in its 11th month.

"Separately, we want to raise the issue of the return of civilian hostages, whom the Russian Federation has detained en masse in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine and whom it does not allow to go home," Lubinets was quoted as saying.

Ukraine has condemned the forced deportation of many civilians in the south and east of the country, whom Russia has moved from their homes in what it calls evacuation operations. Some have been taken to Russia or to Russian-annexed Crimea.

Peace talks between the two countries collapsed in the early months of Russia's invasion and have not been renewed.

President Vladimir Putin has said Russia is open to negotiations, but Ukraine and its ally the United States have reacted sceptically, suggesting he is seeking to buy time to regroup after a series of defeats and retreats.

(Additional reporting by Max Hunder, Writing by Mark Trevelyan; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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