(Update 1: Changes headline, reledes, adds detail throughout)
Moscow/Kyiv, Sep 4 (EFE).- Russian president Vladimir Putin told his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan he was open to negotiations to revive the Black Sea grain deal as both leaders held talks in Sochi on Monday.
Speaking from a resort on the shores of the Black Sea, Putin said the leaders would discuss “issues related to the Ukrainian crisis” at the meeting, according to Russian news agency Interfax.
“I know you intend to bring up questions related to the grain deal. We are open to negotiations on this matter,” Putin added.
The talks between both leaders are the first face to face meeting since Russia pulled out of the United Nations-backed Black Sea grain deal in July.
Russia withdrew from the grain deal claiming Western sanctions were targeting its domestic fertilizer and agriculture exports and has called for an end to certain sanctions to revive the Black Sea Grain Initiative.
Turkey has repeatedly pushed for the revival of the Black Sea Initiative, which for a year allowed the safe passage of food exports from Ukraine, one the world’s leading grain producers.
The meeting comes just hours after Moscow launched overnight attacks on key Ukraine grain export facilities in Odesa.
Russian forces have been attacking several ports on the Danube River in the Izmail district in recent weeks.
Ukraine has been using these ports to move grain products that were previously exported through the Black Sea, which is currently in the midst of Russian military blockade.
In other developments, Putin said he was confident plans to launch a gas hub in Turkey would soon finalize in a bid to stabilize global energy markets.
Erdogan said that working with Russia on energy was “very important, especially in the field of natural gas.”
The Turkish president added that “the creation of a gas center in the Thrace region will enrich our relations.” EFE