Turkey called on Russia to reconsider the decision to suspend the grain deal during a phone call between the two countries' defense chiefs.
During the call on Monday, according to an official Turkish statement, Turkey’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar stressed the importance of the grain deal, which “greatly contributed” to mitigating the food crisis.
Akar told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Soigu, that the grain deal was a “purely humanitarian effort” that should be set apart from the ongoing clashes between Ukraine and Russia, the statement said.
The Russian Defense Ministry announced Saturday that it was halting the grain deal for an “indefinite period of time” in response to drone attacks on its ships in the Black Sea.
The July deal brokered by Turkey and the United Nations has allowed Ukrainian grain to reach world markets and alleviate the skyrocketing food prices and supply shortages fueled by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Speaking earlier, Omer Celik, spokesperson of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party, said the Russian personnel stationed at the center in Istanbul, which was set up for coordination between the parties, have yet to leave their positions, citing the Turkish Defense Ministry’s previous statement on Sunday.
“We wish and hope that this agreement will become operational again. This is an extremely valuable effort that has yielded outcomes beneficial for both the region and humanity,” Celik told reporters, adding that the Black Sea grain initiative has so far allowed more than 9 million metric tons of food to reach world markets.