UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres visited Istanbul on Saturday and inspected the efforts of the Joint Coordination Center (JCC) in bringing Ukrainian grain to international markets.

The UN chief visited the JCC teams who were inspecting a vessel anchored at the Marmara Sea and received a briefing about the inspection process.

“Getting more food and fertilizers out of Ukraine and Russia is critical to further calm commodity markets and lower prices for consumers,” said Guterres while addressing the JCC personnel and media at the JCC center.

“And the other part of this package deal is the unimpeded access to the global markets of Russian food and fertilizer, which are not subject to sanctions,” Guterres added, hinting at the possible start of the exports from Russia, which was agreed upon but not yet implemented.

Together, Russia and Ukraine account for a vast amount of the world’s exported grains and fertilizers.

Following a landmark deal signed respectively by Russia and Ukraine with Türkiye under the UN auspices in July, the first grain-laden ship from Ukraine passed through Istanbul’s Bosphorus Strait on Aug. 3.

Up till now, 43 ships with more than 600,000 tons of cargo-carrying capacity have been authorized to join the efforts to transport Ukrainian grain, according to the data by the JCC.

As the food prices soared all over the globe, the successful start of the deal comes as a big relief to many countries that depend on Russian and Ukrainian exports.

Guterres thanked all parties involved in the deal, stressing the importance of cooperation.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said that “the efforts undertaken by the JCC will have an effect in easing the global food insecurity crisis and will drive the prices down.”

“It is our hope that the foundations for a permanent peace can also be established during this process,” Akar said.

According to the minister, the JCC, which consists solely of civilians from Türkiye, Russia, Ukraine, and the UN, is also expanding. The center now hosts a total of 71 personnel, up from a team of 20 at its start.

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