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Erdogan, Zelensky discuss resumption of grain export deal

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (left) and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky react while giving a press conference following the talks with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in Lviv on Aug 18, 2022. (DIMITAR DILKOFF / AFP)

ANKARA/KYIV/MOSCOW – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday discussed resuming the implementation of the Black Sea Grain Initiative that allows the export of grain from designated Black Sea ports.

In a phone conversation with Zelensky, Erdogan expressed his pleasure that the parties had resolved the grain shipments problem via cooperation, Türkiye's presidency said in a statement.

While saying it was of critical importance for the entire world that both Ukraine and Russia could sell their grain products, Erdogan emphasized the significance of the continuation of the grain shipment agreement, it added.

While saying it was of critical importance for the entire world that both Ukraine and Russia could sell their grain products, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan emphasized the significance of the continuation of the grain shipment agreement, Türkiye's presidency said in a statement

Zelensky said he thanked Erdogan for the efforts to resume the initiative on Ukraine's grain exports.

ALSO READ: Russian, Turkish leaders discuss grain export deal via phone

"I thanked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his active participation in preserving the grain deal, for his steadfast support of sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine," Zelensky tweeted.

Zelensky said he is also counting on Türkiye's support in returning Ukraine's prisoners of war and political prisoners.

Earlier in the day, Russia announced its return to the implementation of the grain export deal, saying Ukraine has promised not to use the humanitarian corridor for military attacks.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar was also informed by his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu that the grain agreement would "continue in the same way as before" as of Wednesday, Erdogan told his party members at the parliament.

ALSO READ: Russia halts participation in grain deal

He said "the goods news" followed his phone talk with Russian President Vladimir Putin a day earlier, in which the two leaders discussed the deal's implementation.

First shipments now will prioritize African countries, including Somalia, Djibouti, and Sudan, Erdogan added.

On Tuesday, Akar said, "Ukrainian interlocutors made (written) statements that relieved these concerns both during their conversations with us and during the meetings of the officials at the Joint Coordination Center in Istanbul."

An aerial photograph taken on Oct 31, 2022 shows a cargo ship loaded with grain being inspected in the anchorage area of the southern entrance to the Bosphorus in Istanbul. Cargo ships loaded with grain and other agricultural products left Ukrainian ports on Oct 31, 2022 despite Russia's decision to pull out from a landmark deal designed to ease a global food crisis. As one of the brokers of the grain deal, Türkiye has stepped up diplomacy with the two countries in a bid to save the deal. (OZAN KOSE / AFP)

Ukraine and Russia separately signed a document on July 22 with Türkiye and the United Nations in Istanbul to resume food and fertilizer shipments from Ukrainian seaports to international markets.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar was informed by his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu that the Black Sea Grain Initiative would "continue in the same way as before" as of Wednesday, Erdogan told his party members at the parliament

Thanks to the participation of the UN and the assistance of Türkiye, the joint coordination center for the implementation of the Black Sea Grain Initiative on Tuesday received a written guarantee from Ukraine of not using the shipping route defined in the deal and Ukrainian ports designated for grain export to conduct military operations against Russia, the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement.

ALSO READ: UN chief seeks to save Ukraine grain deal

On Oct 29, the Ukrainian government-run Ukrinform news agency reported that Russia had announced its withdrawal from the Black Sea Grain Initiative after accusing Ukraine of "terrorist attacks against ships of the Black Sea Fleet and civilian vessels involved in guaranteeing the security of the grain corridor."

Russian grain yield hits new record

Separately, Russia has achieved a new record in grain output this year, harvesting 150 million tons to date, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said on Wednesday.

As harvesting is coming to an end across the country, the agricultural sector has shown an excellent result this year, which will increase the level of Russia's food security, Mishustin said at a government meeting.

There were notable increases in the yield of potatoes, greenhouse vegetables, fruits, soybeans and rapeseed compared to the same period last year, he said.

According to Mishustin, the Russian government allocated about 380 billion rubles ($6.2 billion) earlier this year to fund the country's agricultural development.

READ MORE: UN: Grain exports from Ukraine helping to reduce prices

Also on Wednesday, Russia's Putin told Indonesian President Joko Widodo during a phone call that Russia is ready to ship "considerable amounts" of grain to the poorest countries free of charge as humanitarian aid.