UN chief Antonio Guterres' remarks came during a joint press conference with Türkiye's Defence Minister Hulusi Akar at the Joint Coordination Centre overseeing Ukrainian grain exports in Istanbul.

Guterres and Akar underlined that more than 650,000 metric tonnes of grain and other food are already on their way to markets around the world.
Guterres and Akar underlined that more than 650,000 metric tonnes of grain and other food are already on their way to markets around the world. (AA)

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has thanked Türkiye for its "pivotal role" in the signing of the recent grain export deal, officially known as the Black Sea Grain Initiative.

"I thank you even more for your pivotal role in the Black Sea Grain Initiative," said Guterres on Saturday.

His remarks came during a joint press conference with Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar at the Joint Coordination Centre (JCC) overseeing Ukrainian grain exports in Istanbul.

Akar said that since August 1, 51 ships have sailed for grain shipments, of which 27 have been sent off, while 24 have entered Ukrainian ports.

On the amount of grain exported, he said: "We consider that this number will gradually increase," adding that operations continue as planned.

Akar also noted the strong support and will shown by Türkiye's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Russia's President Vladimir Putin on the deal.

Guterres said the United Nations is working with the United States and European Union to overcome obstacles to Russian food and fertilisers reaching world markets.

"The other part of this package deal is unimpeded access to the global markets of Russian food and fertiliser, which are not subject to sanctions," Guterres said.

"Without fertiliser in 2022, there may not be enough food in 2023. Getting more food and fertiliser out of Ukraine and Russia is crucial to further calm commodity markets and lower prices for consumers," Guterres said.

Guterres said we are at the beginning of a much longer process, but that the potential of this "critical agreement" has already been shown.

READ MORE: How Türkiye made Ukraine grain exports deal with Russia possible

Istanbul Zeyport, JCC inspection

Türkiye, the UN, Russia and Ukraine signed a deal last month to resume grain exports from the Ukrainian Black Sea ports of Yuzhny, Chornomorsk and Odessa, which were halted due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, now in its sixth month.

Earlier on Saturday, Guterres attended inspections at Zeytinburnu Kazlicesme Port and the JCC with his inspection team.

They set off on the service boat to the ship SSI INVINCIBLE II. However, the UN chief did not participate in the onboard inspection.

The ship, which was inspected in Zeyport, will depart for Ukraine's port of Chornomorsk.

After the inspection team's investigations, Guterres moved to the JCC at the National Defence University.

Noting that every member of the delegations represented at the JCC — Ukrainian, Russian, Turkish, and UN — have been working with dedication and professionalism, Guterres said on Saturday.

"They embody what we can achieve with political will, top operational expertise, and collective effort," said Guterres.

READ MORE: How Ukraine grain shipments process from Black Sea ports to Türkiye

Source: AA