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Türkiye, Russia agree to send free grain to needy countries

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, speaks to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during their talks on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, Sept 16, 2022. (ALEXANDR DEMYANCHUK, SPUTNIK, KREMLIN POOL PHOTO VIA AP)

ISTANBUL – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday he has agreed with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, to ship grain and fertilizers free of charge to some African countries.

"During our conversation the other day, Mr Putin told me to send grain to underdeveloped countries free of charge … and we have agreed," Erdogan told an international trade expo in Istanbul.

"We'll make sure that the grain-laden ships reach all the countries in need, starting with Djibouti, Somalia, and Sudan, which are dealing with severe food crises," he added.

READ MORE: Erdogan asks Putin to resolve Ukraine crisis via talks

Erdogan’s remarks on Friday came shortly after he and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres discussed over phone the extension of the Black Sea grain export deal during a phone call.

We'll make sure that the grain-laden ships reach all the countries in need, starting with Djibouti, Somalia, and Sudan, which are dealing with severe food crises.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President, Türkiye

According to the Turkish Directorate of Communications, the Turkish leader stressed the need to extend the grain deal, which is about to expire in three weeks.

Erdogan also expressed satisfaction due to the resumption of the grain deal after heavy diplomatic traffic between Russia and Ukraine.

Russia had put an indefinite hiatus to the agreement over the weekend, citing Ukrainian attacks against its Black Sea fleet. Moscow re-entered the deal after intervention by Turkish and UN diplomats.

Brokered by the United Nations (UN) and Türkiye, the Black Sea Grain initiative reached in late July to establish a maritime humanitarian corridor in the Black Sea for grain and agri-product exports. 

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Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on Tuesday that as part of the initiative, more than 10 million tonnes of grain leaving the Ukrainian ports had been shipped to those in need.