ADDS UN STATEMENT
By Diyar Guldogan
ANKARA (AA) - The first ship to leave Ukraine under a historic grain export deal departed on Monday from the port of Odesa for Lebanon, the Turkish National Defense Ministry announced.
"The ship is expected to arrive in Istanbul on Aug. 2," the ministry said in a statement, adding that the vessel would continue on its way following inspections in the Turkish metropolis.
Loaded with corn, the Sierra Leone-flagged dry cargo ship Razoni is on course for its final destination of the port of Tripoli in northern Lebanon.
Türkiye, the UN, Russia and Ukraine signed a deal on July 22 to reopen three Ukrainian ports -- Odesa, Chernomorsk, and Yuzhny -- for grain that has been stuck for months because of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, which is now in its sixth month.
To oversee Ukrainian grain exports, a joint coordination center in Istanbul was officially opened on Wednesday, comprising of 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.
Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres "warmly" welcomed the Razoni's departure.
"The ship is bound for the port of Tripoli, Lebanon, carrying a cargo of 26,527 tonnes of corn, and is the first vessel to depart under the Black Sea Grain Initiative signed in Istanbul, on 22 July. Ensuring that existing grain and foodstuffs can move to global markets is a humanitarian imperative," said a UN statement by Guterres' spokesman, Stephane Dujarric.
It added that this departure was the collective achievement of the Joint Coordination Centre (JCC) in Istanbul.
According to the statement, Guterres also saluted Türkiye for its leadership, adding: "The Secretary-General hopes that this will be the first of many commercial ships moving in accordance with the Initiative signed, and that this will bring much-needed stability and relief to global food security especially in the most fragile humanitarian contexts."