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UPDATE 2-Two more grain ships leave Ukraine, bringing total to 12 under new deal

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ISTANBUL, Aug 9 (Reuters) - Two more grain-carrying ships left Ukraine's Chornomorsk port on Tuesday, Turkey's defence ministry said, as part of a deal to unblock Ukrainian sea exports, bringing the total to leave the country under a safe passage deal to 12.

The Ocean Lion left for South Korea, carrying 64,720 tonnes of corn, it said, while the Rahmi Yagci was carrying 5,300 tonnes of sunflower meal to Istanbul.

The United Nations and Turkey brokered the agreement last month after warnings that the halt in grain shipments caused by the conflict could lead to severe food shortages and even outbreaks of famine in parts of the world.

Four ships that left Ukraine on Sunday are anchored near Istanbul and will be inspected on Tuesday, the defence ministry statement said.

Before Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24 in what it calls a "special operation" to demilitarise its neighbour, the two countries together accounted for nearly a third of global wheat exports.

The resumption of grain exports is being overseen by a Joint Coordination Centre (JCC) in Istanbul where Russian, Ukrainian, Turkish and U.N. personnel are working.

Ukraine hopes to export 20 million tonnes of grain in silos and 40 million from its new harvest, the country's economic adviser Oleh Ustenko said in July. The government hopes to earn $10 billion for its shattered economy from those volumes but Ustenko said it could take 20 to 24 months to export them if ports are not functioning properly.

(Reporting by Yesim Dikmen; Writing by Ezgi Erkoyun; Editing by Christopher Cushing, Gerry Doyle and Nick Macfie)

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