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Turkey Optimistic Ukraine Grain Deal Possible


FILE: A farmer shows grain in his barn Ptyche, eastern Donetsk region, Ukraine. The country, before Russia invaded it, was a top global exporter of grain. Taken 6.12.2022

Turkey's foreign minister said Thursday he was "optimistic" a deal could be reached soon that addressed Russian concerns and allowed Ukrainian grain to flow across the Black Sea.

Mevlut Cavusoglu's comments about a possible grain deal came less than a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin set an unexpected new condition for resuming the blocked deliveries.

Up to 25 million tons of wheat and other grain have been blocked in Ukrainian ports by Russian warships and landmines Kyiv has laid to avert a feared amphibious assault.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that he expected any agreement to also address his own country's blocked grain exports.

The five-month war is being fought across one of Europe's most fertile regions by two of the world's biggest producers of grain.

Almost all of the grain is usually shipped out of the region across the Black Sea.

Cavusoglu acknowledged Putin's concerns.

"When we resolve this issue, not only will the export path for grain and sunflower oil from Ukraine be opened, but also for products from Russia," he said.

"Even if these Russian products are not affected by sanctions, there are blockages concerning maritime transport, insurance and the banking system," he said.

"The United States and the EU have given promises to lift these," he said. "I am optimistic."

"When we resolve this issue, not only will the export path for grain and sunflower oil from Ukraine be opened, but also for products from Russia," he said.

"Even if these Russian products are not affected by sanctions, there are blockages concerning maritime transport, insurance and the banking system," he said.

"The United States and the EU have given promises to lift these," he said. "I am optimistic."

NATO member Turkey has enjoyed good working relations with both Moscow and Kyiv throughout the conflict.

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