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Russian, Turkish leaders to discuss Ukrainian grain export deal

Russian President Vladimir Putin has arrived in the Iranian capital, Tehran, where he is due to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

According to VOA, Mr Putin touched down in Tehran on Tuesday, being his first trip outside the former USSR since he ordered the invasion of neighbouring Ukraine on February 24.

Reports quoting the Kremlin say the Russian leader went to Iran, primarily, to discuss an agreement to resume grain exports from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports.

UN spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters on Monday that there has been incremental progress with the negotiations between Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the United Nations, “but nothing to announce at this stage.”

He said Secretary-General Antonio Guterres “is ready to travel to Istanbul if need be”.

Mr Guterres spoke on the phone on Monday with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to discuss the ongoing negotiations, according to the UN.

On Tuesday, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen called for a price cap on Russian oil exports while urging countries to unite in opposition to Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Ms Yellen said “economic integration has been weaponised by Russia,” adding that Russia has threatened to spark a global food crisis by blocking Ukrainian ports.

“All responsible countries must unite in opposition to this war and work together to end it swiftly,” Ms Yellen said.

Ukraine’s military said on Tuesday that Russian attacks continued in multiple parts of the country, including shelling in Sumy, as well as blasts in Mykolaiv and a missile strike in Odesa.

The UK defence ministry said Russia “may still make further territorial gains” as it pursues its state goal of taking control of all of Donetsk province in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region. But the ministry said in its daily assessment on Tuesday that Russia’s “rate of advance is likely to be very slow without a significant operational pause for reorganisation and refit” of its forces.

Meanwhile, in Washington, Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska is due to meet with US first lady Jill Biden at The White House, a day after meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Writing by Tony Okerafor; Additional material by VOA