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First Grain Ship Under Russia- Ukraine Deal Leaves Black Sea Port

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The first ship carrying grain under a landmark deal signed by Ukraine, Russia and Turkey last month left the Ukrainian port of Odesa on Monday.

The Razoni, carrying a cargo of 26,527 tons of corn, is the first cargo ship to leave a Ukrainian Black Sea port since February 26; two days after the Russian invasion began. It is bound for the Mediterranean port of Tripoli, in Lebanon.

An agreement to allow the safe transportation of Ukrainian grain shipments through the Black Sea was signed in the Turkish city of Istanbul on July 22 after talks brokered by the United Nations and Turkey.

The deal dubbed a "beacon of hope" by UN Secretary General António Guterres established a Joint Coordination Centre (JCC) in Istanbul, under the auspices of the UN, by representatives from the three governments who inked the deal, known officially as the Black Sea Grain Initiative.

The task of the coordination center will be to carry out "general monitoring and coordination of safe navigation in the Black Sea.

The JCC said it has requested all its participants to inform their respective military and other relevant authorities of this decision to ensure the safe passage of the vessel.

The deal also paves the way for Russian food and fertilizer to reach global markets. This development is expected help reduce soaring food prices worldwide, and avert the possibility of famine afflicting millions in the months ahead.

In a statement welcoming the departure of the first grain ship, Guterres said he hopes "this will bring much-needed stability and relief to global food security especially in the most fragile humanitarian contexts."

A statement issued by the UN chief's Spokesperson said that the UN emergency food agency, WFP, which is a major customer of Ukraine's grain and cereals, was planning to buy, load and ship an initial 30,000 tonnes of wheat from Ukraine, on a UN-chartered vessel.

Russian blockade of Black Sea ports that prevented supply of grains to global market and reduced production prospects in Ukraine because of the war had led to steep increase in wheat and other grains' prices.

Ukraine and Russia account for nearly a third of global wheat imports, with the two countries supplying more than 45 million tons annually, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The Grain Initiative allows for significant volumes of exports from thew Black Sea ports of Odesa, Chernomorsk, and Yuzhny. Inspection teams will monitor the loading of grain at the ports, wit Ukrainian pilot vessels guiding the ships through the Black Sea, after which they will head out through the Bosphorus Strait, passing Istanbul, along an agreed corridor.

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