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Turkish president to speak with Putin on grain deal in coming days

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday that he will speak by phone in the coming days with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to discuss the Black Sea Grain Initiative.

“We will have a phone call with Putin in two to three days,” Erdogan said in an interview broadcast live on Turkish channels NTV and Star TV.

He said the world appreciates Türkiye’s mediation efforts between Russia and Ukraine.

“We are already acknowledged in the world. Türkiye’s success is on everyone’s lips in the world,” he added.

Last July, Türkiye, the UN, Russia and Ukraine signed a deal in Istanbul to resume grain exports from three Ukrainian Black Sea ports which were paused after the Russia-Ukraine war began in February 2022.

Erdogan announced the deal’s extension on Saturday, one day before it was slated to lapse.

The president also recalled Putin’s offer of sending grain to poor countries free of charge.

He added that Türkiye is in preparation for buying wheat to turn it into flour and sending it to poor countries.

“(Together with Putin), We will take our steps in this area as well,” Erdogan said.

He added that Ankara is determined also to ship Russian fertilizer to less developed countries.

“There is need of fertilizer. We will supply them. We will send it (fertilizer) to world markets and underdeveloped countries and try to relieve them,” he said.

Stressing that Türkiye will not be a party to any war and will always be on the side of peace, Erdogan said: “As a matter of fact, this is the step that we took in the Russia-Ukraine war.”

On last month’s powerful earthquakes in Türkiye’s southern region, Erdogan said they are making efforts to “heal the wounds” of the victims.

On Feb. 6, magnitude 7.7 and 7.6 quakes struck 11 Turkish provinces – Adana, Adiyaman, Diyarbakir, Elazig, Hatay, Gaziantep, Kahramanmaras, Kilis, Malatya, Osmaniye and Sanliurfa — claiming the lives of over 50,000 people.

More than 13.5 million people in Türkiye have been affected by the quakes as well as many others in northern Syria.

Erdogan vowed to reconstruct the quake-hit regions, saying: “As we promised, we are starting to lay the foundation tomorrow (Thursday). I hope that we will be able to finish the permanent houses in one year.”

The president said that 302 suspects were arrested as part of an investigation carried out after the earthquakes.

“We will be following (investigations) closely. Those who do not fulfill their responsibilities will be held accountable. There’s no escape,” he added.

Regarding Türkiye’s first indigenous electric car TOGG, Erdogan said from the end of this month, TOGG will enrich the streets.

Nearly 80,000 orders for the automobile have been received to date, he said.

Pre-orders for the TOGG T10X will be taken online from March 16-27 and deliveries will start in late March.

The price of the standard range model T10X will start from 953,000 Turkish liras (about $50,200) to 1.055 million liras (about $55,600), while the long-range model was priced at 1.215 million liras (about $64,000).

Erdogan said the production target of TOGG is 20,000 this year, adding: “Hopefully we will have produced one million TOGGs by 2030.”

Erdogan sent his warmest wishes as Muslims around the world begin the holy month of Ramadan.

“Tonight we will get up for suhur and we will start breathing the spiritual atmosphere of Ramadan,” he said, referring to the meal eaten by Muslims before dawn during the fasting month.

Ramadan is believed to be a time of intense spirituality when the believers are surrounded by angels, the gates of heaven are open, and Allah’s blessings and mercy are abundant.

Muslims in Türkiye will fast for 29 days beginning from Thursday, March 23, according to the Diyanet, Türkiye’s top religious body.

Muslims will celebrate Eid al-Fitr at the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

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