ANKARA— Impoverished nations in Africa will be given priority regarding new grain shipments from Ukraine, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says.

Russian President Vladimir Putin had suggested prioritizing countries including Somalia, Djibouti and Sudan, Erdogan told his party members in parliament, adding that he agreed with the idea.

Ankara’s diplomatic efforts helped convince Moscow to return to the grain deal, the Turkish leader said.

“Following our call with Mr Putin yesterday, Russian Defence Minister Shoigu called our Defence Minister Hulusi Akar to say that grain shipments will continue as previously planned starting from 12 o’clock today,” he said.

The Turkish Defence Ministry later confirmed that shipments had started at noon (0900 GMT)?as promised.