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Ukraine, Russia to Sign Deal to Reopen Grain Ports - Turkey
By Staff, Agencies
Russia and Ukraine will sign a deal on Friday to reopen Ukraine's Black Sea ports for grain exports, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s office said, raising hopes that an international food crisis can be eased.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who earlier announced that he was heading to Istanbul on Thursday, will attend the event along with Erdogan at the Dolmabahce Palace offices at 13:30 GMT, the statement said.
“The grain export agreement, critically important for global food security, will be signed in Istanbul tomorrow under the auspices of President Erdogan and UN Secretary General Mr. Guterres together with Ukrainian and Russian delegations,” Erdogan spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said in a tweet.
Russia and Ukraine are both major global wheat suppliers and Russia’s military operation in Ukraine has sent food prices soaring.
Guterres has been working on a plan that would enable Ukraine to export millions of ton of grain stockpiles that have been stuck in Ukraine’s Black Sea ports due to the war – a move that could ease a global food crisis. At least 22 million tons of grain are stuck in Ukraine.
Last week, the sides met in Istanbul, reaching a tentative agreement on the plan, which foresees joint controls of ships as they leave and arrive at Black Sea ports and a mechanism to ensure the safety of the transfer routes, Turkish officials said.
A coordination center for the shipping of exports would be established in Istanbul and would include UN, Turkish, Russian and Ukrainian officials.
UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said the fact that Guterres was travelling to Istanbul means “we’re moving ahead” on the deal. UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths, whom Guterres put in charge of the Ukraine side of the deal, and Rebeca Grynspan, head of the UN Conference on Trade and Development, in charge of the Russian side of the deal, were already in Istanbul.
With the growing global food crisis, Haq said if an agreement is reached “we can potentially save hundreds of thousands, potentially millions of people, from having food be priced out of their reach.”
However, the Kremlin spokesman declined to comment on the Turkish announcement. Dmitry Peskov said it was a question “for the [Russian] military.”
The UN and Turkey have been working for two months to broker what Guterres called a “package” deal – to resume Ukraine’s Black Sea grain exports and facilitate Russian grain and fertilizer shipments.
Ukraine could potentially restart exports quickly, Ukraine’s deputy agriculture minister Taras Vysotskiy said earlier on Thursday.
Russian and Ukrainian officials have blamed each other for the blocked grain shipments.
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