'Beacon of hope': Deal signed to resume grain exports from Ukraine by sea



UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres hailed the Ukraine grain deal as a "beacon on the Black Sea" at the signing ceremony attended by the representatives from Türkiye, Russia and Ukraine in Istanbul on Friday.

"There is a beacon on the Black Sea. A beacon of hope – a beacon of possibility – a beacon of relief - in a world that needs it more than ever," said the UN chief.

Ukraine and Russia on Friday signedseparate "mirror" deals on grain exportwith Türkiye and the UN to free up grain exports from Ukraine's besieged Black Sea ports.

The agreement, in two copies, was signed by TurkishDefense Minister Hulusi Akar with Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov, and with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, respectively.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who also attended the ceremony, said this Black Sea Grain Initiative "will contribute to prevent the danger of hunger that millions face all over the world."

The agreement, also known as the Black Sea Grain Initiative, would allow significant volumes of commercial food and fertilizer exports from three key ports in the Black Sea - Odesa, Chernomorsk and Yuzhny, the UN said in a statement on its website.

A Joint Coordination Center will be established in Istanbul to monitor implementation in Istanbul including representatives from Türkiye, Russia and Ukraine, said the UN statement.

According to a copy of the agreement released by Andrii Sybiha, deputy head of the Ukrainian President's Office, the deal will be effective for 120 days and can be renewed for the same duration unless one of the signing parties terminates.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday called for efforts to effectively implement the agreements on transporting Ukrainian grain from the Black Sea ports and on promoting Russian exports of food and fertilizers.

Given the significant share of Russian and Ukrainian agricultural products in international markets, ensuring uninterrupted shipping meets the pressing objectives of maintaining food security, especially for the developing and least developed countries, Lavrov said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Friday that the text of the document fully met the interests of Ukraine. "The deal will enable Ukraine to export 20 million tons of last year's grain harvest and part of this year's harvest."

The agreement will provide a chance to reduce the severity of the global food crisis and prevent a global catastrophe, Zelenskyy added.

"We will remain closely involved in working for the agreement's success," Guterres said, urging all sides to spare no effort to implement their commitments.

In a tweet Friday, Zhang Jun, China's permanent representative to the UN, welcomed the signing of the Black Sea agreement, described it as a very meaningful step, and echoed Guterres' appeal for peace.

"Hope the parties concerned will maintain the momentum of dialogue and foster conditions for the early restoration of peace," Zhang tweeted.

Ukraine is among the world's leading grain exporters, supplying more than 45 million tons annually to the global market, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

The number of people affected by hunger globally rose to as many as 828 million in 2021, an increase of about 46 million since 2020 and 150 million since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a UN report titled "The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2022," which was published in July 2022.