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Ukraine, Turkiye foreign minister says Black Sea deal must be renewed

August 25, 2023 at 8:42 pm

An aerial view of the container ship which set sail from Ukraine’s Odesa port earlier this week, reaches the Istanbul Strait in Istanbul, Turkiye on August 18, 2023 [Osman Bakır/Anadolu Agency]

The Turkish and Ukrainian foreign ministers said, on Friday, that other solutions to the export of Ukrainian grain than the Black Sea grain deal, which ended after Russia quit last month, were less optimal, Reuters reports.

The deal brokered by Turkiye and the United Nations last year had allowed the safe Black Sea export of Ukrainian grain. Ankara has been trying to persuade Moscow to return to the agreement.

Ukraine announced earlier this month a “humanitarian corridor” in the Black Sea to release cargo ships that have been trapped in its ports since Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on 24 February, 2022. The first vessel that used the corridor arrived in Istanbul last week.

In a news conference during his visit to Kyiv, Turkish Foreign Minister, Hakan Fidan, said renewing the grain deal was a priority for Ankara and that Russia must be included in the equation for a functioning agreement.

“Reviving this initiative is a priority for Turkiye … I hope we’ll get a successful result,” he said, adding that alternative solutions would not be effective in replacing the deal.

“I have been thinking from the beginning that Russia should be included back into this equation,” Fidan added.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister, Dmytro Kuleba, said Kyiv is working on alternative routes but that the Black Sea grain deal was the optimal solution.

“We are working on alternative routes … but, objectively speaking, the functioning of the Black Sea route is an optimal solution from all points of view,” he said.

“We will be able to substantially expand the transportation of grain via land corridors, but the blockade of the Black Sea must end,” Kuleba added.

READ: Turkiye President might hold face-to-face meeting with Putin on Black Sea grain deal