Officials from Ukraine, Russia, and Turkey will meet in Istanbul on Friday to sign a deal proposed by the UN to facilitate the export of Ukrainian grain, a spokesman for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday.
Turkey first announced the tentative deal last week after hosting talks between Russia, Ukraine, and the UN. Under the agreement, Ukrainian vessels would guide ships in and out of Ukraine’s heavily mined ports, and Russia would agree not to attack the area while shipments were moving.
Turkey’s role would be to inspect ships leaving Ukrainian ports for smuggled arms, and Istanbul would have the support of the UN for the mission. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is expected to be in Istanbul on Friday for the signing of the deal.
“The grain export agreement, critically important for global food security, will be signed in Istanbul tomorrow under the auspices of President Erdogan and UN Secretary-General Mr. Guterres together with Ukrainian and Russian delegations,” Erdogan spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said.
Turkey has emerged as a broker between Russia and Ukraine and has been calling for a negotiated solution to end the war, unlike the US and other NATO members that have shown little interest in diplomacy.
Despite having no involvement in the brokering of the grain deal, the US said Thursday that it will hold Russia “accountable” to see that it’s implemented.
“What we have heard within that past couple of hours is a welcome development, but what will really matter is the implementation of this agreement. We will of course continue to work with our partners to hold Russia accountable for its implementation,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said.