ANKARA, Turkey -- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday he intends to “intensify” negotiations with Russia and Ukraine in the hope of reaching a deal on a U.N. plan to export Ukrainian grain to world markets.
Erdogan made the comments during a joint news conference with Italian Premier Mario Draghi. Turkey is working with the United Nations, Ukraine and Russia on a plan to that would allow millions of tons of Ukrainian grain sitting in silos to be shipped through safe corridors in the Black Sea.
“We will intensify our talks within a week or 10 days and try to reach a result,” he told reporters.
Ukraine is one of the world’s largest exporters of wheat, corn and sunflower oil, but Russia’s invasion halted most of that flow, endangering food supplies to many developing countries, especially in Africa.
The Ukrainian government has cited a Russian naval blockade of its ports, while Russia has claimed that Ukrainian sea mines prevent the safe movement of agricultural exports.
Draghi praised the possibility of an accord as important not just to getting grain and fertilizer to poor countries, but because it would represent the first agreement Ukraine and Russia had reached on anything during the war, which is now in its fifth month.
“This accord is very important also from the more general point of view within the efforts to arrive at a peace," he said.
Last week, Draghi said the U.N. plan to export Ukrainian grain via safe sea corridors could save weeks to a month of precious time to empty silos before the autumn harvest since it wouldn’t require demining the ports. He said the plan requires Russia’s final approval.
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