Erdogan, Putin discuss grain corridor, gas hub in phone call

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Presidents Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and Vladimir Putin of Russia discussed grain supplies and a potential regional gas hub in Turkey on Sunday, both countries said.

Relations with NATO member Turkey are vital to Russia at a time when the West has hit it with waves of economic sanctions, which Ankara has refrained from joining.

Turkey has, however, rejected Russia's move to annex four Ukrainian regions as a “grave violation” of international law. Ankara has acted as a mediator with the United Nations on an agreement that guarantees grain exports from both Ukraine and Russia, two of the world's biggest producers.

“President Erdogan expressed his sincere wish for the termination of the Russia-Ukraine war as soon as possible,” the Turkish presidency said on Sunday.

In the call, Erdogan said Ankara and Moscow could start work on exporting other food products and commodities through the Black Sea grain corridor, Erdogan's office said.

Russia has urged the United Nations to push the West to lift some sanctions to ensure Moscow can freely export its fertilizer and agricultural products - a part of the Black Sea grain deal that Moscow says has not been implemented.

“The deal is of complex character, which requires the removal of obstacles for the relevant supplies from Russia in order to meet the demands of the countries most in need,” the Kremlin said in a statement.

The Kremlin said the two also discussed an initiative to create a base in Turkey for exports of Russian natural gas.

Putin proposed the idea in October as a means to redirect supplies from Russia's Nord Stream pipelines to Europe, which were damaged in explosions in September. Erdogan has supported the concept.

“The special importance of joint energy projects, primarily in the gas industry, was emphasized,” the Kremlin said.

Gazprom chief Alexei Miller held talks with Erdogan in Istanbul in the past week.

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