© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Workers store grain at a wharf during the barley harvest in the Odessa region as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues on June 23, 2022.REUTERS/Igor Tkachenko/File photo
Tuwan Gumrukku and Michelle Nichols
ANKARA/NEW YORK (Reuters) – Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday he hoped Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and the United Nations would reach a general agreement on a U.N.-led plan to resume Ukraine’s Black Sea grain exports presented in writing. Week.
Ankara said on Monday that a meeting between the four parties was “likely” to take place this week. The war in Ukraine has caused prices of grains, cooking oil, fuel and fertilizers to soar, triggering a global food crisis.
“An agreement was reached on the general outline of the process under the UN program during talks in Istanbul last week. Now, we want to link this agreement with a written document,” Erdogan said on a flight back from Tehran told reporters that he met Russian President Vladimir Putin there.
“We hope that the program will be implemented in the next few days,” Erdogan added, according to a transcript of the Turkish president’s comments.
Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 and blocked its ports, stalling exports, stranding dozens of ships and trapping about 20 million tons of grain in silos in the Black Sea port of Odessa.
Moscow denies responsibility for exacerbating the food crisis, instead blaming the chilling effect of Western sanctions for slowing its own food and fertilizer exports, as well as Ukraine’s exploitation of Black Sea ports.
U.N. Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haque said on Wednesday that while U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was on vacation, “he was on the phone all day” and talking to different leaders. He declined to say who Guterres spoke to.
“He’s trying to make as much progress as possible on this now,” Harker said, without giving further details. “I’m optimistic, but it’s not quite done,” Guterres told reporters last week.
Ukraine and Russia are major global suppliers of wheat, Russia is also a major fertilizer exporter, and Ukraine is a major producer of corn and sunflower oil.
Before talks a week ago, diplomats said details of the plan included Ukrainian ships guiding grain ships in and out of mining port waters; Russia agreeing to a truce while cargoes move; and Turkey – with the support of the United Nations – inspecting ships to mitigate Russia’s resistance to weapons Fear of smuggling.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday that Washington was encouraging U.N. efforts to broker a Ukrainian food export deal.
“But we will also focus on the Russians and hold them accountable for any deal they should make with the United Nations,” she said. “We think we might even hear that an announcement will be made today. So far, it hasn’t happened.”