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ANKARA: A spokesman for the Turkish presidency said there was a “high probability” that a first ship carrying Ukrainian grain could leave Ukraine’s port of Odessa on Monday.

That is despite Russian missiles hitting the city in the wake of the July 22 agreement on shipping grain between Russia, Turkey, the UN and Ukraine.

“There is a strong possibility that a first ship could leave tomorrow morning if everything is sorted out by this evening,” Ibrahim Kalin said in an interview with Kanal 7 television Sunday.

But Kalin said there were still “one or two subjects to be settled in the negotiations with the Russians”.

“Preparations have reached a point to allow the ships to leave the port of Odessa. The ships have been loaded, they are ready to leave, but we need good logistical coordination,” he said. The resumption of exports was also discussed in talks between the Turkish and Ukrainian defence ministers, Ankara said Sunday.

“It is planned to begin transport as soon as possible,” the Turkish ministry said in a statement. The Joint Coordination Centre, charged with controlling Ukrainian grain exports via the Black Sea, was officially inaugurated Wednesday in Istanbul in line with the deal.

The deal to lift the blockade — the first significant text involving both sides since the conflict began — is aimed at easing a global food crisis that has seen prices soar in some of the world’s poorest countries. The coordination centre is responsible for registering and tracking merchant ships taking part in the convoys, monitoring them via the web and satellite, and inspecting the ships as they are loaded at Ukrainian ports and when they arrive at Turkish ports.

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