Three more grain ships to leave Ukraine on Friday, says Turkey

Russia and Ukraine agreed in Istanbul last month to resume shipments from Ukrainian ports

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy (C), with ambassadors and UN officials, visits a port in Chornomork during the loading of grain on to a Turkish ship, near Odesa. AP
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Three grain ships will set sail from Ukrainian ports on Friday, Turkey's Defence Minister said on Thursday, days after the first vessel left the Ukrainian port of Odesa under a grain deal signed last month to lift Russia's blockade of the Black Sea.

Hulusi Akar's statements were carried by state-run Anadolu Agency, which also reported that Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday discussed the latest on the UN-backed deal.

Moscow and Kyiv agreed last month in Istanbul to resume shipments of wheat and other grain from Ukrainian ports for the first time since Russia invaded its neighbour in February.

The first ship, loaded with 26,000 tonnes of corn, set off from Odesa on Monday for the Lebanese port of Tripoli.

The Sierra Leone-registered Razoni reached Turkish territorial waters near the entrance to the Bosphorus Strait the following day and was inspected in Istanbul on Wednesday by a team that included Russian and Ukrainian officials.

The ship's passage is being overseen by an international team that includes officials from Turkey, the United Nations and the two warring parties.

The team said in a statement that the first ship's successful passage offered "proof of concept" that the agreement can hold.

Ukraine this week said it has 16 more ships loaded with grain and ready to set sail.

Russia and Ukraine are major suppliers of wheat and other grain.

The halt of almost all deliveries from Ukraine has sent global food prices soaring, making imports prohibitively expensive for some of the poorest nations of the world.

Wheat prices fell sharply hours after the grain shipment agreement was signed.

Updated: August 05, 2022, 4:11 AM