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First Ukraine grain ship docks in Turkey after being turned away

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The first grain ship to leave Ukraine under a UN-backed deal last week docked in Turkey on Wednesday, marine traffic sites showed, following a report that it has finally found a buyer for its maize, Agence France-Presse reported.

The Sierra Leone-flagged vessel Razoni left the Ukrainian port of Odessa on Aug. 1 carrying 26,000 tons of corn and had been expected to dock in the Lebanese port of Tripoli last weekend.

But Ukrainian officials said the shipment’s five-month delay caused by Russia’s invasion prompted the Lebanese buyer to cancel the deal once the ship was already at sea.

Marine traffic sites showed the Razoni docked in Turkey’s Mediterranean port of Mersin after spending several days anchored just off the coast.

The Middle East Eye news site cites a shipping agent as saying that a Turkish buyer has been found for the maize.

The “cargo sold. … It will [unload] at Mersin,” Ahmed al-Fares of the Ashram Maritime Agency told the news site.

An agreement signed by the warring parties with UN and Turkish officials in İstanbul last month lifted a Russian blockade of Ukraine’s ports and established safe corridors through the mines laid by Kyiv to ward off any amphibious assault by Moscow.

The top UN official overseeing the deal said on Wednesday that the first 12 ships to leave Ukrainian ports under the deal were mostly carrying corn instead of wheat because that was the harvest stored in silos at the time of Russia’s invasion.

“We’re actually transitioning to wheat,” Frederick Kenney told reporters.

“We have cleared the first ship inbound” to Ukraine through the Bosporus Strait to pick up the wheat, he said. “That should occur some time next week.”

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