Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and UN reach agreement over grain shipments
Turkey, Ukraine and the United Nations (UN) hailed progress at talks in Istanbul with Russia designed to resume Black Sea grain exports and ease the risk of starvation faced by million across the world. “Today is an important and substantive step,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told reporters, Tuesday, of developments at talks in Istanbul among the four parties. “A step on the way to a comprehensive agreement.”
Turkey’s Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said an agreement would be signed next week. Turkey will guaranteed the safety of cargo ships while Russian, UN and Ukrainian officials jointly inspect the ships cargo at the Ukrainian port of Odessa.
Russian news agency RIA quoted an unnamed diplomatic source as saying Russia’s demands in the grain talks included the removal of “obstacles to exports” created by Western sanctions, citing the areas “of shipping insurance, logistics, transportation services and banking operations”.
“Of course, this was a first meeting,” Guterres noted. “The progress was extremely encouraging. Now, the delegations are coming back to their capitals, and we hope the next steps will allow us to come to a formal agreement.”
While Guterres would not predict when the final agreement would be ready, he said he hoped the parties would reconvene next week and have a final agreement. Whenever it is, he said, he would be ready to go to Istanbul to sign it.
More than 20 million tons of Ukrainian grain are being stored in silos at the Black Sea port of Odessa, and dozens of ships have been stranded because of Russia’s blockade. Turkey said it has 20 merchant ships waiting in the region that could be quickly loaded and dispatched to world markets.
“Truly, failure to open those ports in Odessa region will be a declaration of war on global food security,” World Food Program chief David Beasley warned at a meeting of the U.N. Security Council on May 19. “And it will result in famine and destabilization and mass migration around the world.”
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