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Putin praises Turkish mediation to unblock grain, food exports

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday thanked his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for his role in mediating a recent deal to resume grain exports from Ukraine's Black Sea ports.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday thanked his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for his role in mediating a recent deal to resume grain exports from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports.

Erdoğan also helped find “a package solution for the uninterrupted delivery of Russian food and fertilizers to the world markets,” Putin told the Turkish president in remarks ahead of the two leaders’ meeting in the Russian seaside resort of Sochi on Friday.

Turkey and the United Nations recently brokered a deal between Kiev and Moscow to resume grain exports from three Ukrainian ports. Agricultural exports had been blocked for months following Russia’s invasion of its neighbour Ukraine.

In the course of the agreement, the UN and Russia also signed a separate memorandum of understanding. According to the UN, it envisages promoting the export of Russian food and fertiliser.

Putin said he hoped to ink a deal to boost economic and trade cooperation with Turkey.

An announcement on agreed topics is expected following the meeting, Turkish state broadcaster TRT said.

A joint coordination centre in Istanbul is responsible for safely coordinating the grain exports and monitoring the shipments to make sure the vessels are not smuggling weapons into the war zone.

Putin also praised Turkey’s role in enabling a stable transit route for Russian gas to reach European markets.

Turkey maintains close ties with both Ukraine and Russia, despite some key differences with the latter concerning regional issues. The two countries are backing opposing sides in Syria, for example.

Erdoğan said he would also discuss Turkey’s planned military incursion to attack a Kurdish militia in northern Syria, among other regional issues, with Putin.

Turkey already occupies swathes of land along its border in northern Syria and recently warned of a new offensive against the “terrorist” threat of the US-backed Syrian Kurdish militia the People’s Defence Units (YPG).

Russia and Iran – both key actors in the Syrian civil war – had previously advised Ankara against taking such a step.

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