Ukraine, Russia to sign grain deal in Turkey Friday: Ankara
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is heading to Istanbul amid efforts to get a deal between Russia and Ukraine over Ukraine's grain exports.
According to the Turkish Presidency, Ukraine and Russia will finalize a deal on Friday that will allow grain to begin flowing across the Black Sea, easing the current global food crisis.
"The signing ceremony of the grain shipment agreement, in which President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will be present, will be held (Friday) with the participation of Ukraine and Russia," the Turkish leader's office said.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres may meet with Turkish, Russian, and Ukrainian representatives and leaders in Istanbul; yet, there is no confirmation so far, deputy UN spokesman Farhan Haq said on Thursday.
"It is possible but I do not have a confirmation at this point," Haq told reporters when asked whether Guterres will meet with representatives from Turkey, Russia, and Ukraine in Istambul.
When asked whether there would be a possible meeting between the UN chief and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, he said, "We will try to get a full list of people with whom he meets … As you know, when he [Secretary-General] comes to a country, he tends to meet with their most senior officials."
Assisted by Turkey, the United Nations is trying to broker a Russia-Ukraine deal on grain exports. All the parties to the negotiations met in Istanbul last week and reported some positive results; nonetheless, additional technical work is needed to materialize the progress, according to Guterres.
On July 3rd, and upon Ukraine's request, Turkey detained a Russian ship suspected of carrying Ukrainian grain. The detained ship has been returned to Russian territorial waters on July 7, a Turkish source told AFP. Turkey’s decision to return the ship to Moscow has drawn angry condemnations from Kiev.
Previously, on June 3rd, Politico reported, citing US officials, that the US will not lift sanctions against Russia in order to assist with grain exports from Ukraine. This is opposed to the Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Maria Zakharova's statement to Sputnik, on May 19, that remarks alleging that Russia is blocking exports of Ukrainian grain in the Black Sea ports are “speculations.
Previous attempts to reach an agreement on a Black Sea grain corridor have fallen through, in part because Ukraine is unwilling to remove sea mines that it claims are critical to guarding against an alleged Russian naval attack.
Ukrainian authorities are demanding security guarantees in exchange for the removal of any of their mines, claiming that they simply cannot trust Russia not to attack once the full-scale invasion began in February.