Turkey says Russia and Ukraine will sign UN grain export deal on Friday | war news between russia and ukraine

The office of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Russia, Ukraine and Turkey will meet on Friday to sign a deal proposed by the United Nations to free grain exports from Ukraine’s blockaded ports on the Black Sea.

The statement said that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who had earlier announced his trip to Istanbul on Thursday, would attend the event with Erdogan at the Dolmabahce Palace offices at 13:30 GMT.

“The Cereal Export Agreement, which is crucial to global food security, will be signed in Istanbul tomorrow under the auspices of President Erdogan and UN Secretary-General Mr. Guterres with Ukrainian and Russian delegations,” Erdogan’s spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, said in a tweet.

Both Russia and Ukraine are the major global suppliers of wheat and the Russian invasion of Ukraine has pushed up food prices.

Guterres was working on a plan that would enable Ukraine to export millions of tons of grain stocks that were stuck in Ukraine’s Black Sea ports because of the war – a move that could ease the global food crisis. At least 22 million tons of grain stuck in Ukraine.

Turkish officials said the two sides met last week in Istanbul and reached a preliminary agreement on the plan, which foresees joint controls for ships leaving and arriving at Black Sea ports and a mechanism to ensure the safety of transportation routes.

Work around the clock

A coordination center for export shipments will be set up in Istanbul, and will include officials from the United Nations, Turks, Russia and Ukraine.

Deputy UN spokesman Farhan Haq said the fact that Guterres was traveling to Istanbul meant “we are moving forward” with the deal. UN Humanitarian Coordinator Martin Griffiths, who was appointed by Guterres in charge of the Ukrainian side of the deal, and Rebecca Greenspan, chair of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, responsible for the Russian side of the deal, were already in Istanbul.

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β€œWe worked around the clock, with intense behind-the-scenes conversations with countless moving parts,” Haq said.

With the growing global food crisis, Haq said that if an agreement was reached, “we could save hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of people, from getting food at prices beyond their reach.”

The United States welcomed the agreement and said it was focusing on holding Russia accountable for its implementation.

“We shouldn’t have been in this position in the first place,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said. “This was a deliberate decision by the Russian Federation to weaponize food.”

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said late Thursday that another round of UN-led talks to lift a ban on Ukraine’s grain exports would be held in Turkey on Friday.

“In short, a document may be signed obligating the two sides (to ensure) the safe operation of export routes in the Black Sea,” Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko told Reuters news agency.

A Kremlin spokesman declined to comment on the Turkish announcement. Dmitry Peskov said it was a question “for [Russian] army”.

The United Nations and Turkey have been working for two months to broker what Guterres called a “comprehensive” deal – to resume Ukraine’s Black Sea grain exports and facilitate shipments of Russian grain and fertilizer.

Ukraine’s Deputy Agriculture Minister Taras Vysotsky said earlier on Thursday that Ukraine could quickly resume exports.

“Most of the infrastructure of the wider Odessa ports – there are three of them – is still in place, so it is a matter of several weeks if there are proper security guarantees,” he told Ukrainian television.

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Russian and Ukrainian officials blamed each other for blocking grain shipments.

Moscow accused Ukraine of failing to clear naval mines in ports to allow safe shipping. Russia also insisted on its right to check incoming ships for weapons.

Ukraine has sought international guarantees that the Kremlin will not use safe passages to attack Ukraine’s main Black Sea port of Odessa. The Ukrainian authorities also accused Russia of stealing grain from its eastern regions to sell and deliberately bombing Ukrainian fields to set them on fire.

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