Turkey is ‘determined’ to keep grain deal in force as ships leave Ukrainian ports
Turkey is “determined” to continue its efforts to keep the Ukraine grain deal in force despite Russia suspending its participation, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday.
“Although Russia acts hesitantly... we will resolutely continue our efforts to serve humanity,” Erdogan said in a televised address, days after Moscow said it was suspending its participation in the deal negotiated by Turkey and the UN to export Ukrainian grain.
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Earlier in the day, the UN Coordinator for the Black Sea Grain Initiative said that civilian cargo ships can never be a military target or held hostage, and that “the food must flow” under the deal which Russia withdrew from over the weekend.
Amir Abdulla’s comment on Twitter came after the United Nations, Turkey and Ukraine pressed ahead with a transit plan.
Meanwhile, 12 ships left Ukrainian ports on Monday and four were to head to the country, according to the Joint Coordination Center (JCC) that has been overseeing the agreement brokered by Turkey and the UN.
A record volume of 354,500 tonnes of agricultural products was carried on vessels leaving Ukrainian ports on Monday as part of the grain deal, a spokesperson for Odesa’s military administration said.
Separately, a UN spokesperson said the first of 40 planned ship inspections on Monday had been completed in Istanbul waters with a team of just UN and Turkish members, rather than the previous four-member teams including Russians and Ukrainians before Moscow’s suspension.
Russia has notified the UN and Turkey of its plans to suspend the agreement for an indefinite period of time after Moscow accused Ukraine of a “massive” drone attack on its Black Sea Fleet in Crimea.
The July deal to unlock grain exports signed between warring nations Russia and Ukraine is critical to easing the global food crisis caused by the conflict.
The agreement, which established a safety corridor through which vessels could travel to Istanbul for inspections, had already allowed more than nine million tonnes of Ukrainian grain to be exported and was due to be renewed on November 19.
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