Turkish foreign minister meets UN Secretary-General ahead of grain deal with Ukraine

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu welcomed UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in Istanbul on Friday (July 22) ahead of the grain deal signing with Russia and Ukraine.

Guterres is expected to co-sign the accord and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan will attend.

The blockade by Russia’s Black Sea fleet has worsened global supply chain disruptions and, along with Western sanctions imposed on Moscow, stoked high inflation in food and energy prices since Russian forces swept into Ukraine on February 24.

Full details of the accord were not immediately released.

But Russian state news agency TASS, citing an unnamed source, said that three Ukrainian ports including the biggest export hub Odesa would be reopened.

Diplomats said last week details of the plan included Ukrainian vessels guiding grain ships through mined port waters, with Turkey overseeing inspections of ships to allay Russian concerns they might smuggle weapons to Ukraine.

Some 20 million tonnes of grain are stuck in silos at Odesa, and dozens of ships have been stranded by Moscow’s offensive.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu tweeted on Thursday (July 21) that Friday’s gathering in Istanbul would mark “the first step to solve the current food crisis.”

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