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Convoy of grain ships sails from Ukraine

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Four more ships carrying grain and sunflower oil have left Ukraine ports via a safe maritime corridor.

Millions of tonnes of grain have been stuck in Ukraine due to Russian blockades. But last week the first ship left Ukraine’s ports since February.

The latest ships to set sail are bound for Turkey where they’ll be inspected as part of a deal reached with Russia and the United Nations (UN).

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They left on Sunday from the ports of Odesa and Chornomorsk, and will all travel through the Bosphorus strait. After the inspections, two are then scheduled to dock in Turkey, while the others are headed for Italy and China. Another empty ship has been authorised to travel to Ukraine for loading.

Under a deal brokered by Turkey and the UN last month, Russia agreed not to target ships which were in transit, while Ukraine said it would guide vessels through mined waters.

The deal, set to last 120 days, can be renewed if both sides agree. If the deal holds, Ukraine expects to export up to three million tonnes of grain per month.

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Ukrainian authorities say there are good signs that the grain exports are safe, and have urged companies to return to the country’s ports. The hope is that the exports will help ease the global food crisis while bringing in much needed foreign currency.—BBC

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