Russia and Turkey have voiced support for the creation of a safe maritime corridor in the Black Sea so Ukraine can export grain to global markets amid an escalating world food crisis. A Turkish minister said the move should also be accompanied by the easing of western sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu hosted his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Ankara for discussions focused on a UN proposal to free Ukraine’s Black Sea ports and allow some 22 million tons of grain sitting in silos to be shipped out. Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, pictured, met with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara (Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service via AP) Ukraine is one of the world’s largest exporters of wheat, corn and sunflower oil, but the war and a Russian blockade of its ports have halted much of that flow, endangering food supplies to many developing countries. Many of those ports are now also heavily mined. Ukraine’s government was not represented at the Ankara meeting but has expressed concerns that removing mines from its ports to facilitate grain exports could allow Russia to attack its southern coast. Mr Lavrov promised that Russia would not “abuse” its naval advantage if Ukraine’s ports were demined and would “take all necessary steps to ensure that the ships can leave there freely”. Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu backed easing western sanctions against Russia (Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service via AP) Both Russia and Turkey would also benefit from the export plan. The same corridor would also allow Russia to export food and fertiliser. Turkey would facilitate and protect the transport of the grain in the Black Sea, Turkish officials said. “As Turkey, we find this plan reasonable and see it as a feasible one,” Mr Cavusoglu told a joint news conference with Mr Lavrov. But the scheme would require negotiation between Moscow and Kyiv, he added. Mr Lavrov, left, and Mr Cavusoglu met with members of delegations at the talks (Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service via AP) The Turkish minister also backed easing western sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine if it participated in the UN plan, saying that seemed “quite legitimate”. “If the whole world is in need of the products to be exported by Ukraine and the Russian Federation, then a method needs to be established,” he said, adding that he hoped “technical preparations” could be made “as soon as possible”. Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy and Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed the creation of a safe sea corridor last week, the Ukrainian foreign ministry said on Tuesday. It also called for security guarantees, such as a supply of weapons to defend against maritime threats and the participation of third-country naval forces. Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan had previously discussed the creation of a safe sea corridor (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP) Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday the Russian military would need to check commercial ships taking the grain to make sure they were not carrying weapons. He added that after they were loaded with grain, Russia would help escort the ships to international waters. Turkish defence minister Hulusi Akar said on Tuesday that technical details were still being worked out. “Our efforts are continuing concerning the technical planning on such issues as how it will be done, how the mines will be cleared, who will do it, how the corridor will be established and who will escort (ships),” Mr Akar said. Addressing the possibility of resumed peace talks between Kyiv and Moscow, Mr Cavusoglu said Turkey was “much more optimistic”. Turkey hosted previous talks between Russian and Ukrainian officials in March but since then little progress has been made. “We see an optimistic atmosphere in terms of going back to the negotiation table,” Mr Cavusoglu said, citing recent comments by Mr Zelenskiy. He reiterated Ankara’s offer to oversee a meeting between Mr Zelenskiy and Russian president Vladimir Putin. Mr Lavrov said Russia was willing to hold further talks but accused Mr Zelenskiy of “changing his position all the time” over conditions for a leaders’ summit.