ISTANBUL (Reuters) -Three outbound vessels had left Ukrainian ports by midday on Tuesday under the Black Sea grain export deal, the United Nations-led coordination centre said, the second day of sailings after Russia suspended participation in the initiative.
Turkey, one of the brokers and guarantors of the deal, sounded optimistic that a solution would be found to return Russia to the agreement and keep exports safe as the war rages on.
The Istanbul-based Joint Coordination Centre (JCC) said in a statement that the ships’ movement was agreed by the Ukrainian, Turkish and U.N. delegations working there, and that the Russian delegation had been informed.
Amir Abdulla, the U.N. Coordinator for the Black Sea Grain Initiative, “continues his discussions with all three member state parties in an effort to resume full participation at the JCC,” the statement said.
Separately, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan told his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin that Ankara is making efforts with all sides to solve problems regarding the implementation of the deal.
Erdogan expressed during the phone call that “he is sure a solution-oriented cooperation will be established on this issue, as in many other topics,” the Turkish presidency said.
The export deal was agreed by Russia and Ukraine and brokered by Turkey and the United Nations in July to ease a world hunger crisis caused in part by Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine and an earlier blockade of its ports.
Twelve ships set sail from Ukrainian ports on Monday, the single biggest day of exports since the programme began, while two arrived.
Putin has said Russia’s decision to suspend participation in the programme was a response to a drone attack on Moscow’s fleet in Crimea on Saturday that he blamed on Ukraine. Moscow said on Monday it was “unacceptable” for shipping to pass through the corridor.
Kyiv has not claimed responsibility for the attack and denies using the grain programme’s security corridor for military purposes. The U.N. said no grain ships were using the Black Sea route on Saturday.
Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar told Ukraine’s defence and infrastructure ministers that keeping the initiative going was important and that, as a humanitarian initiative, it should be kept separate from the conflict in Ukraine, his ministry said on Tuesday.
U.N. and Turkish teams continued their inspections on Tuesday of outbound vessels anchored in Istanbul, the JCC statement said, having cleared 46 ships to sail on Monday.
(Reporting by Daren Butler and Yesim Dikmen; Editing by Jonathan Spicer, David Evans and Jan Harvey)