Grain exports via Black Sea to begin in coming days, Erdoğan says as blasts rock port

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Saturday that grain exports through the Black Sea would begin in the coming days, promising that Ankara would continue its efforts to resolve the Ukraine crisis through diplomatic efforts.

“With the start of maritime grain transport in the coming days, we will make an important contribution to solving the global food crisis,” public network TRT quoted Erdoğan as saying in a speech in the central province of Kayseri.

Erdoğan’s remarks come as Kyiv says Russia attacked the Black Sea port city of Odessa, less than 24 hours after Ukraine and Moscow agreed to a UN-brokered deal and Turkey that would allow the resumption of vital Ukrainian Black Sea grain exports. harbors. The deal was seen as a breakthrough in alleviating a global food crisis sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that began in February.

Ukraine’s military said Russia fired at least four missiles on Saturday, The Washington Post reported, in a move that threatens the deal.

Turkey’s defense minister said on Saturday that Moscow had denied carrying out any attack on the Ukrainian port of Odessa, the Cumhuriyet newspaper reported.

“The Russians told us that they had absolutely nothing to do with this attack and were looking into the matter very closely,” Hulusi Akar said. Russia has yet to officially comment.

Ukraine was one of the world’s leading grain exporters before the war, but more than 20 million tonnes have been stuck in Black Sea ports for months as the conflict threatens food shortages and rising prices in the whole world.

“We are determined to continue diplomatic efforts until peace between Russia and Ukraine is secured. In the near future, we hope to receive encouraging news during the talks and contacts at all levels, including leaders,” Erdoğan said.

Turkey, a maritime neighbor of Russia and Ukraine, maintains good relations with the two countries and has strengthened its position as a mediator since the start of the war.

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