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UPDATE 1-Three ships plan to set out from Ukrainian ports on Friday -Turkish minister

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ISTANBUL, Aug 4 (Reuters) - Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said there are plans for three ships to set out from Ukrainian ports on Friday under the deal to unblock the country's grain exports, his ministry said on Thursday.

A first vessel carrying Ukrainian grain set sail from the port of Odesa on Monday, arriving at the Bosphorus Strait some 36 hours later under a deal between Russia and Ukraine, brokered by Turkey and the United Nations, that aims to ease a global food crisis stemming from the war.

The Turkish statement said Akar had held talks with Ukraine's defence and infrastructure ministers to discuss the situation around grain deliveries, being organised by the Joint Coordination Centre in Istanbul.

"As a result of the intense work and coordination at the centre, three ships are planned to start sailing from Ukrainian ports as part of the grain shipments tomorrow," Akar was quoted as saying in the statement. It did not specify which ports were involved.

He said an empty ship was expected to head to Ukraine after being inspected in Istanbul, without identifying the vessel.

A spokesperson for the regional administration of Odesa said late on Wednesday a Turkish bulk carrier was expected to arrive in Ukraine's Chornomorsk port on Friday, making it the first ships to arrive at a Ukrainian port during Russia's invasion.

He identified the bulk carrier as Osprey S, flying the flag of Liberia.

As of Thursday afternoon, Osprey S was anchored in the Sea of Marmara, around 1 kilometre (0.62 mile) off Istanbul's Asian coast, along with other ships waiting to cross the Bosphorus in to the Black Sea, according to a Reuters journalist. (Reporting by Yesim Dikmen; Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Frances Kerry)

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