Erdoğan to discuss grain deal with Putin, Zelensky, says FM

(Updates with Erdoğan-Putin call in sixth paragraph)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is set to speak with his Russian and Ukrainian counterparts in the coming days in a bid to restore the grain export deal, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Tuesday.

"Our president will speak with (Russian President Vladimir) Putin and (Ukrainian President Volodymyr) Zelensky in the coming days," Turkish network NTV cited the country’s top diplomat as telling reporters.

The remarks arrive after Moscow at the weekend announced it suspended its participation in the agreement in the grain deal that has seen more than 9 million tons of grain exported from Ukraine during the war, bringing down soaring global food prices. 

Moscow is citing a Ukrainian drone attack on Saturday against Russia’s Black Sea Fleet ships moored off the coast of occupied Crimea as the reason for the move, a claim Kyiv has denied.

"We believe we will overcome this... (The grain deal) benefits everyone," Çavuşoğlu said.

Later on Tuesday, Putin told Erdoğan in a phone call that Russia could consider resuming a deal allowing grain exports from Ukrainian seaports only after completion of an investigation of drone attacks on the Crimean naval port of Sevastopol, Reuters reported.

Turkey and the U.N. brokered the grain initiative in July, enabling the resumption of Ukrainian grain exports through the Black Sea which had been disrupted following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February. The deal was set to expire Nov. 19.

NATO member and EU hopeful Turkey has denounced Russia’s offensive against Ukraine, but unlike most other NATO and EU member nations, has stopped short of slapping punitive measures on Moscow and is seeking to mediate between the two warring sides in the hope of brokering a peace deal or a ceasefire.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Monday his country was determined to press forward with the grain deal between Russia and Ukraine, days after Moscow announced that it was suspending the agreement.

Russia’s move has effectively blocked shipments from Ukraine. Russia and Ukraine are among the world’s largest exporters of grain. Global humanitarian organizations, the European Union, NATO and the United Nations have all pleaded with Russia to reverse its decision, warning that any decline in exports coming from Ukraine could lead to potentially deadly consequences. 

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