New York [US], August 1 (ANI): UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres welcomed the departure of the first ship with grain from the port of Odessa on Monday morning and called it "a collective achievement of the Joint Coordination Centre".
"The Secretary-General warmly welcomes the departure of the M/V Razoni, the first commercial ship leaving Ukraine's port of Odesa since 26 February 2022 ... Ensuring that existing grain and foodstuffs can move to global markets is a humanitarian imperative. The first departure is a collective achievement of the Joint Coordination Centre (JCC) set up in Istanbul under the auspices of the United Nations," the UN office said in a statement.
It further said that the ship is bound for the Lebanese port of Tripoli and carries a cargo of 26,527 tonnes of corn.
"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," the statement further said.
The Turkish Defence Ministry on Monday confirmed the departure of the first shipment with grain cargo from the Ukrainian port of Odessa and added that the vessel is expected to reach the port of Istanbul on August 2.
Earlier, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had said that grain exports via the Black Sea will begin in the coming days.
"With the beginning of maritime grain transportation in the coming days we will make an important contribution to the upcoming global food crisis," TASS news agency quoting Erdogan as saying.
Meanwhile, a high-level UN trade official has said the world body will continue to stay engaged with partners in the European Union, the United States and Russia to understand any obstacles to grain exports in the wake of the deal with Ukraine.
This statement comes as the defence ministers of Russia and Turkey and the infrastructure minister of Ukraine met in Istanbul to ink an UN-brokered deal on grain exports that would allow Russia to export its grain and fertilizers, Washington Post reported.
The agreement has ended a wartime standoff that had threatened food security in several countries and cleared the way for exporting tons of Ukrainian grains.
The deal will enable Ukraine to export 22 million tons of grain and other agricultural products that have been stuck in Black Sea ports due to the war.
Notably, the deal will create provisions for the safe passage of ships. Moreover, a control centre will be established in Istanbul, staffed by UN, Turkish, Russian and Ukrainian officials, to run and coordinate the process and the ships would undergo inspections to ensure they are not carrying weapons.
Ukraine is regarded as the "breadbasket of Europe" supplying 10 per cent of the world's wheat, 12-17 per cent of the world's maize and half of the world's sunflower oil. Twenty-five million tonnes of corn and wheat - the entire annual consumption of all the least developed countries.
The West has said that Russia's actions have driven up prices in countries like the UK and the ongoing blockade has placed 47 million people around the world on the brink of humanitarian disaster. (ANI)