Ukraine grain exports deal set to be signed in Türkiye

An agreement to restart grain shipments from Ukraine is set to be signed in Istanbul on Friday, Türkiye’s Communications Directorate has said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and UN chief Antonio Guterres will attend the ceremony at the Dolmabahce Presidential Office, the directorate said in a statement on Thursday.

Officials from Russia and Ukraine will also oversee the signing ceremony.

Ankara and the UN have been working on a plan that would enable Ukraine to export millions of grain stockpiles that have been stuck in Ukraine’s Black Sea ports due to the conflict — a move that could ease a global food crisis that has sent wheat and other grain prices soaring.

Last week, the sides met in Istanbul, reaching a tentative agreement on the plan. The plan foresees joint controls of ships as they leave and arrive at Black Sea ports and a mechanism to ensure the safety of the transfer routes, Turkish officials said.

A coordination centre for the shipping of exports would be established in Istanbul and would include UN, Turkish, Russian and Ukrainian officials.

US hails Türkiye’s ‘diligent work’

US State Department welcomed the announcement, saying it applauds Türkiye for its “diligent work” on reaching the Ukrainian grain export deal.

Earlier on Thursday, the UN’s deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq said that the head of the body would leave New York for Istanbul, one week after a meeting tackled Ukraine’s grain export.

Antonio Guterres “will travel to Istanbul, Türkiye this evening, as part of his efforts to ensure full global access to Ukraine’s food products, and Russian food and fertilizer,” Haq said at a news conference.

Tons of Ukrainian grain are stuck because of the Russian offensive in Ukraine that is in its fifth month, causing global shortages.

Russia, which is accused of using food as a weapon, said Western sanctions are to blame for the food shortages.

Haq said the UN wants to have an agreement that would allow Ukrainian and Russian food and fertilizer to reach global markets.

“People are still dying. It is still raging. But the hopeful news from Istanbul shows the importance of dialogue,” he added.