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First grain ship to leave Ukraine anchors off Turkish coast


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ISTANBUL — The first grain-carrying ship to leave Ukrainian ports in wartime safely anchored off Turkey’s coast on Tuesday, while a senior official said Ankara expects roughly one grain ship to depart from Ukraine every day as long as the export agreement holds.

The first ship, the Razoni, carrying 26,527 tonnes of corn to Lebanon, anchored near the Bosphorus entrance from the Black Sea at around 1800 GMT, some 36 hours after departing from Ukraine’s Odesa port.

A delegation from the Joint Coordination Centre (JCC) in Istanbul, where Russian, Ukrainian, Turkish and U.N. personnel work, is expected to inspect the ship at 0700 GMT on Wednesday, according to Turkey’s Defence Ministry.

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The sailing was made possible after Ankara and the United Nations brokered a grain and fertilizer export agreement between Moscow and Kyiv last month – a rare diplomatic breakthrough in a conflict that has become a drawn-out war of attrition.

The exports from one of the world’s top grain producers are intended to help ease a global food crisis

“The plan is for a ship to leave…every day,” the senior Turkish official told Reuters, referring to Odesa and two other Ukrainian ports covered by the deal. “If nothing goes wrong, exports will be made via one ship a day for a while.”

The official, who asked to remain anonymous, added that the Razoni’s departure was delayed by a couple of days by “technical problems” that are now fixed, and NATO member Turkey expected the safe-passage corridor to function well.

As part of the agreement, the four parties are monitoring shipments and conducting inspections from the JCC in Istanbul, which straddles the Bosphorus Strait that connects the Black Sea to world markets. (Additional reporting by Mehmet Emin Caliskan and Umit Bektas in Istanbul; Writing by Ece Toksabay; Editing by Jonathan Spicer, Barbara Lewis and Leslie Adler)


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