Friday, July 19, 2024

Erdogan calls for extending Black Sea Grain Initiative

At a joint press conference with his visiting Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for extending the Black Sea Grain Initiative which will expire on July 17.

“We are making efforts to extend the duration of the Black Sea grain deal,” Erdogan at the press conference on Friday night.

The Turkish leader noted that almost 33 million tonnes of grain have been delivered to those in need under the deal.

The UN and Turkey had brokered the Black Sea Grain Initiative with Russia and Ukraine to provide a humanitarian maritime corridor for ships with food and fertilizer exports from the Ukrainian Black Sea ports in July 2022 amid the ongoing war.

As the agreement expires on July 17, Erdogan said, “we are working on how long we can extend this period after July 17,” adding that poor African countries in particular are in desperate need of grain shipments from Ukraine.

Erdogan noted that Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to visit Turkey next month and that he will discuss this issue with the latter face-to-face.

“We have made the most intensive efforts to bring the war between Russia and Ukraine to an end through negotiations on the basis of international law,” said the Turkish president.

On his part, Zelensky said the Black Sea should be an area of safety and not of “so-called frozen conflicts”.

“It is very important that we start working with our partners to ensure that the existence of the grain corridor and, therefore, the lives of other people, as Mr. President (Erdogan) said, on other continents (including Africa and Asia), do not depend on the mood in which the President of the Russian Federation wakes up,” Zelensky added.

Ahead of the joint press conference, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov had said: “Of course, we will follow the results of these negotiations very closely. We maintain our constructive, partnership relations with Ankara and value these relations, and we feel reciprocity from the Turkish side.

“It will be interesting for us to know what will be discussed between Mr. Erdogan and Mr. Zelensky. It is important.”

Peskov went on to complement the Turkish President for acting as an intermediary between Moscow and Kiev, saying Putin and Erdogan communicate regularly.

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