UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, thanked Turkiye 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 Odessa, Anadolu News Agency reports.
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 Centre, set up last week in Istanbul under United Nations auspices, with representatives from Ukraine, the Russian Federation, and Turkiye," the UN Chief told reporters.
"Ensuring that grain, fertilisers 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.
Turkiye, the UN, Russia and Ukraine signed a deal on 22 July to reopen three Ukrainian ports – Odessa, 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 centre in Istanbul officially opened on Wednesday, comprising representatives from Turkiye, the UN, Russia and Ukraine to enable the safe transportation by merchant ships, of commercial foodstuffs and fertilisers from the three key Ukrainian Black Sea ports.