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Turkey says working on Ukraine grain export plan: report

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Turkey is coordinating closely with Russia and Ukraine on a plan that would re-start grain exports from Ukrainian ports even as conflict rages elsewhere in the country, Reuters reported, quoting Defense Minister Hulusi Akar.

The United Nations-driven plan would open a safe shipping corridor to address a global food crisis brought on by Russia’s invasion in February that halted Ukraine’s Black Sea grain exports.

Akar said the four sides are working out how mines floating off the port of Odesa and elsewhere along Ukraine’s coast will be cleared and who will do it, and who would safeguard the corridor.

“We are making efforts to conclude this as soon as possible,” he told reporters after a cabinet meeting late on Monday.

“A lot of progress has been made on this issue” and technical planning continues, he said.

Turkey neighbors Ukraine and Russia at sea and has said it is ready to take on a role within an “observation mechanism” if a deal is reached.

That could involve Turkish naval escorts for freighters leaving Ukraine and heading toward Turkey’s straits onward to world markets.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu hosts his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, for talks on the plan on Wednesday.

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