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Istanbul Centre to coordinate Ukrainian grain exports officially opens

Farmers harvest wheat on May 14, 2022 [Mohamed Abdel Hamid/Anadolu Agency]
Farmers harvest wheat on May 14, 2022 [Mohamed Abdel Hamid/Anadolu Agency]

A new joint coordination Centre in Istanbul, established as part of a historic deal to restart Ukrainian grain exports to the world, officially opened on Wednesday, Anadolu News Agency reports.

"The duty of the Centre is to provide safe sea transportation of grain and similar food products to be exported from Ukraine," Turkish Defence Minister, Hulusi Akar, said at the opening ceremony, held at the National Defence University in Istanbul.

The Centre and the grain deal will make "significant contributions" to overcoming the food crisis impacting the entire world, and especially lowering prices, he added.

If left unaddressed, the grain problem could have caused security problems due to hunger and global irregular migration, he warned.

"The Centre consists of five representatives – both military and civilian – each from Turkiye, Russia, Ukraine and the UN. There will be no military element in the field," he said.

Turkiye, the UN, Russia, and Ukraine last week signed a deal to reopen three Ukrainian ports for grain that had been stuck for months due to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, now in its sixth month.

The deal came after agreement was reached between stakeholders on an UN-led plan to form a coordination Centre in Istanbul to carry out joint inspections at the entrances and exits of harbours, and to ensure the safety of routes. All parties have appointed representatives to monitor implementation of the plan.

READ: UK, EU hail Turkiye, UN-brokered deal on shipping Ukraine grain from Black Sea

Akar said the Centre will register and monitor the departure of commercial ships via satellite, internet and other communication means, and will carry out all its activities in coordination with the parties and the UN.

He added that the ships will be inspected by joint inspection teams at locations deemed suitable for loading at Ukrainian ports and upon arrival at ports in Turkiye.

He stressed that the deal will be valid for 120 days, and it will be renewed, unless there is a demand otherwise from any of the parties.

About demining Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea, Akar said if there is a need, the parties will act accordingly, but added: "At this stage, there is no need for demining."

Akar said preparations continue for the first ships to leave Ukrainian ports, which he earlier said should start soon.

Previously, Turkish Presidential spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, said grain exports from Ukrainian ports could resume within two weeks.

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