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UN chief thanks Türkiye after 1st grain ship departs Ukraine

UN chief thanks Türkiye after 1st grain ship departs Ukraine

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres thanked Türkiye on Monday for its efforts and leadership as a nascent deal to resume grain exports from Ukraine saw its first ship depart from the port of Odesa.

The departure of the Sierra Leone-flagged dry cargo ship Razoni marked an “important starting point” for the agreement, Guterres said. “It must be the first of many commercial ships bringing relief and stability to global food markets,” he added.

“Today’s departure is an enormous collective achievement by the Joint Coordination Center, set up last week in Istanbul under United Nations auspices, with representatives from Ukraine, the Russian Federation, and Türkiye,” the UN chief told reporters.

“Ensuring that grain, fertilizers, and other food-related items are available at reasonable prices to developing countries is a humanitarian imperative. People on the verge of famine need these agreements to work in order to survive,” he said.

The Razoni is due to arrive in Istanbul on Tuesday for an inspection under the historic agreement to facilitate grain and foodstuff exports. The vessel is bound for the Lebanese port of Tripoli in the country’s north.

Türkiye, the UN, Russia, and Ukraine signed a deal on July 22 to reopen three Ukrainian ports – Odesa, Chernomorsk, and Yuzhny – for grain that has been stuck for months because of Russia’s ongoing war against Ukraine, which is now in its sixth month.

To oversee Ukrainian grain exports, a joint coordination center in Istanbul officially opened on Wednesday, comprising representatives from Türkiye, the UN, Russia, and Ukraine to enable the safe transportation, by merchant ships, of commercial foodstuffs and fertilizers from the three key Ukrainian Black Sea ports.