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MOSCOW: Russia and Turkey agreed to continue discussing a potential safe corridor in the Black Sea to export grain from Ukraine after talks in Moscow, the Russian defence ministry and Turkey’s state broadcaster said on Wednesday. Ukraine is one of the top wheat suppliers globally, but its shipments have been halted by Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion, causing global food shortages.

The United Nations has appealed to both sides, as well as maritime neighbour Turkey to agree a corridor. NATO member Turkey has held direct talks with Russia and the UN on the corridor but said more were needed for a deal. To agree the UN-led plan, Moscow wants some Western sanctions lifted to help facilitate its grain and fertiliser exports, and Kyiv seeks security guarantees for its ports.

Ankara, which has good ties with both, has said the demands are reasonable. On Tuesday, sources in the Turkish presidency said a meeting between Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the UN would be held in Istanbul in coming weeks. Turkey’s TRT Haber broadcaster said talks between the Turkish and Russian military officials on Tuesday were lengthy, “positive and constructive”.

A Turkish dry cargo ship stuck at the Ukrainian port of Mariupol - under Russian control - had safely departed from the port as a result, it said. The Azov Concord vessel left Mariupol port hours after the meeting finished, TRT said. Talks were led by generals assigned to operate a “hotline” between Ankara, Moscow and Kyiv to seek a solution to the crisis, it added. Without citing a source, TRT said “an understanding emerged for meetings to be held between Turkey, Russia, Ukraine and the United Nations to resolve the problem”.

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