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Since the beginning of its invasion of Ukraine, Russia has notably targeted grain silos and prevented the export of millions of tons of grain to countries often already in plagued by food insecurity.
Russia and Ukraine will sign an agreement on grain exports in Istanbul on Friday afternoon, the Turkish presidency announced on Thursday.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, as well as representatives from Russia and Ukraine will participate in the signing ceremony which will take place at the end of afternoon, local time, at the Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul, the presidency added.
The agreement should allow an exit through the Black Sea of Ukrainian cereals blocked by the war and an easing of restrictions on the export of Russian grain and fertilizers.
An agreement is possible in the coming days, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Thursday morning.
We have hope for cereals. We hope to give good news in the coming days, he said, saying he was optimistic, in an interview with the public television channel TRT.
In New York, UN Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq announced that Antonio Guterres and his two negotiators, who have been at work for more than two months, are expected to return imminently. Istanbul.
The Secretary-General will travel this [Thursday] evening to Istanbul, Turkey, as part of his efforts to ensure full global access to Ukrainian food products and to food and Russian fertilizers, he said.
The UN chief is vacationing near Turkey and had recently indicated he was ready to cut it short for a signature at Istanbul.
According to diplomats speaking on condition of anonymity, an agreement should originally have been signed on Wednesday, then it was postponed until Thursday before now due happen Friday.
In addition to the head of the UN, Martin Griffiths, his assistant secretary general for humanitarian affairs, who took care of the negotiation on the exit of Ukrainian cereals by the Black Sea, and Rebeca Grynspan, at the head of the UN agency UNCTAD on trade and development, will also be in Istanbul, said Farhan Haq.
Rebeca Grynspan, who recently visited Moscow , was responsible for negotiating the easing of restrictions indirectly affecting the export of Russian grain and fertilizers following international sanctions imposed on Moscow by, among others, the United States and the ;European Union.
Fighting between Russia and Ukraine has often damaged fields in the Ukrainian countryside.
According to a diplomat who asks not to be identified, Washington recently promised so-called comfort guarantees so that shipping companies could supply Russia with large tonnage ships for the export of its grain and fertilizers without be worried about the sanctions.
Moscow claimed that these sanctions only allow it to use small vessels with insufficient capacity for its exports.
< p class="e-p">Even if Russian [agricultural] products are not affected by the sanctions, there are blockages concerning maritime transport, insurance and the banking system. The United States and the European Union have made promises to lift them, underlined the Turkish minister.
As for Ukrainian cereals, the agreement under negotiation aims at a reuse of the Black Sea via secure corridors and localized ceasefires on passage areas.
An inspection of commercial vessels, presumably by Turkey, is planned to ensure that ships going to Odessa to collect grain do not contain weapons.
The establishment of a coordination center is planned for Istanbul with the participation of UN experts specializing in maritime navigation, according to diplomats.
The expected agreement between Ukraine and Russia should have the #x27;rapid effect of lowering prices, which have seen very strong growth in recent months.
The resulting food crisis threatens several countries in the world with 27; a risk of famine, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, but also in Lebanon or Egypt.