Türkiye, the UN, Russia, and Ukraine continue their activities for unblocking Ukrainian grain exports that were stuck due to the Moscow-Kyiv war, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on Friday.
"Our friends and officials at the center are working hard to ensure that the agreement in question runs smoothly and successfully, in mutual understanding and coordination.
"We continue our work as Russia, Ukraine, UN, and Türkiye. In this context, the first ship had left the Ukrainian ports earlier, and is continuing its course towards Lebanon," Akar told a news conference with Defense Minister of Sierra Leone Kellie Hassan Conteh in the Turkish capital Ankara.
Akar's remarks came after three more ships left Ukrainian ports, carrying over 58,000 tons of corn under a recent historic deal to unblock Ukraine grain exports.
The Panama-flagged Navist departed from the port of Odesa for Ireland with 33,000 tons of grain, the Malta-flagged Rojen left the port of Chornomorsk with 13,000 tons of grain for the UK, and the Türkiye-flagged ship Polarnet left carrying a cargo of 12,000 metric tons of corn destined for Karasu in Türkiye.
On Monday, the first ship to leave Ukraine under the agreement, Sierra Leone-flagged cargo vessel Razoni, departed from Odesa carrying over 26,500 tons of corn, got security clearance in Istanbul, and is on its way to the Lebanese port of Tripoli, its final destination.
"The empty ship that was waiting here (in Türkiye) to go to Ukraine has also departed. This ship, the first to go to Ukraine, embarked from Istanbul to Ukraine this morning," he said.
"The ship will return after getting loaded in Ukraine. Our activities continue as planned so far, without any interruptions, as stated in the agreements," Akar said.
The minister said he hopes that the process will be completed smoothly.
Türkiye, the UN, Russia, and Ukraine signed a historic deal on July 22 to reopen three Ukrainian ports -- Odesa, Chornomorsk, and Yuzhny -- for grain exports.
To resume Ukrainian grain exports, a joint coordination center in Istanbul was officially launched on July 27, comprising representatives from Türkiye, the UN, Russia, and Ukraine to enable the safe transportation by merchant ships of commercial foodstuffs and fertilizers from the three key Ukrainian Black Sea ports.