Turkey supports Russia’s Plan to export Ukrainian Grain
Turkey's foreign minister said today that a plan to alleviate the global food crisis by restarting Ukraine's grain exports along a maritime corridor was "reasonable" and required more talks with Moscow and Kyiv to ensure the safety of ships, Reuters reported.
Speaking at a joint news conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Mevlut Cavusoglu said their meeting in Ankara was fruitful, including a strong will to return to talks between Moscow and Kyiv on a possible ceasefire.
Lavrov said that Ukraine must solve the problem of grain supplies by demining its Black Sea ports and that Russia should not take any action because it has already made the necessary commitments.
"We declare daily that we are ready to ensure the safety of ships leaving Ukrainian ports and heading to (Turkish waters), we are ready to do so in cooperation with our Turkish counterparts," he said after talks with Cavusoglu.
However, there is no agreement on the issue yet, because Ukraine is not participating in the meeting in Ankara, the BBC notes.
Kyiv said it needed "effective security guarantees" before it could begin deliveries, expressing fears that Moscow could use the potential corridor to move to its southern port of Odessa.
Russia's invasion of Ukraine on February 24 halted Black Sea grain exports from Kyiv, threatening the world with a food crisis. The UN has called on the two countries, as well as its maritime neighbor and NATO member Turkey, to agree on a corridor.
Moscow denies responsibility for the international food crisis. It cites Western sanctions as the reason.
A possible deal could include a Turkish naval escort for ships leaving Odessa and other Ukrainian ports that are currently blocked by the Russian navy and heading to Turkish straits and world markets.
Cavusoglu said he believed the world should work together to open a safe passage for Ukraine's agricultural exports, and that Turkey saw Russia's demands to lift restrictions on agricultural exports as "very legitimate".
The European Union has repeatedly emphasized that its sanctions against Russia so far do not affect its agricultural exports or the export of fertilizers.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba was quoted as saying by the BBC that his country preferred to negotiate the grain issue mainly through the United Nations. he reiterated that any deal to demine Ukrainian ports should not undermine his country's security.
Kuleba also said he trusted the Turkish navy to guard any future safe route for ships leaving Ukraine.
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