Turkey to host Russia-Ukraine-UN grain talks

Russian President Vladimir Putin, July 8, 2022. (Photo: AFP)
ISTANBUL, Turkey — Turkey said it will host Russian and Ukrainian delegations with UN diplomats on Wednesday to discuss the resumption of stalled grain deliveries across the Black Sea.اضافة اعلان

The four-way meeting with Turkish officials comes as food prices soar around the world due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Ukraine is one of the world's biggest exporters of wheat and other grain.

But its shipments have been blocked by Russian warships and mines that Kyiv has laid across the Black Sea.

NATO member Turkey has been spearheading efforts to resume grain deliveries.

Turkish officials say they have 20 merchant ships waiting in the Black Sea that could be loaded quickly with Ukrainian grain.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar announced the meeting in a statement on Tuesday but did not specify who will represent each side.

"Military delegations from the Turkish, Russian, and Ukrainian defense ministries, and a delegation of the United Nations, will hold talks tomorrow in Istanbul on the safe shipment to international grain markets waiting in Ukrainian ports," Akar said.

A Russian foreign ministry spokesman confirmed the meeting but insisted that Moscow had a list of demands.

"Another round of expert consultations is planned for July 13 in Istanbul," ministry spokesman Pyotr Ilyichev quoted Russia's Interfax news agency.

"Our understandable conditions include the possibility to control and search the ship to avoid the contraband of weapons and Kyiv's commitment not to stage provocations," Ilyichev said.

Erdogan-Putin talks
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has tried to use his good working relations with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin and the Western-backed leaders in Kyiv to thrust Ankara into the center of negotiations about Ukraine.

Erdogan is due to meet Putin for the first time since Russia's invasion when the two leaders are hosted by Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in Tehran next Tuesday.

The talks are officially due to focus on the situation in war-ravaged Syria.

But the Kremlin said Putin and Erdogan will also hold a separate meeting that is almost certain to focus heavily on Ukraine.

Turkey has been sending defense delegations to Moscow and Kyiv to break the deadlock over Ukraine's grain.

A plan proposed by the United Nations would see the shipments start along specific corridors that avoid known locations of mines.

Ukraine has refused to de-mine the area out of fear that Russia might then stage an amphibious assault on cities such as the Black Sea port of Odessa.

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