Turkey says working to agree Ukraine grain export plan

Flour mill Mlybor in Chernihiv region
Sergei Yarosh, head of Mlybor (flour mill) enterprise, shows a handful of grains at the facility after it was shelled repeatedly, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in Chernihiv region, Ukraine May 24, 2022. REUTERS/Edgar Su

ISTANBUL, June 7 (Reuters) - Turkey is coordinating closely with Russia and Ukraine to agree a plan that would re-start grain exports from Ukrainian ports even as conflict rages elsewhere in the country, Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said.

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 which 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 in embargoed remarks after a cabinet meeting late on Monday.

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

Turkey neighbours 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 tankers leaving Ukraine and heading toward Turkey's straits onward to world markets. read more

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu hosts his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov for talks on the plan on Wednesday.

Reporting by Ezgi Erkoyun and Daren Butler; writing by Jonathan Spicer; editing by Jason Neely

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