Black Sea grain deal extended, say parties to agreement
A deal allowing the export of Ukrainian grain from Black Sea ports that was due to expire has been renewed, following days of talks brokered by Turkey to extend the agreement.
The pact was brokered with Russia and Ukraine by the United Nations and Turkey in July - and renewed for a further 120 days in November - to combat a global food crisis that was fuelled in part by Russia's February 24, 2022, invasion of Ukraine and Black Sea blockade.
"The Black Sea Grain Initiative, signed in Istanbul on 22 July 2022, has been extended," the United Nations said in a statement on Saturday, thanking the Turkish government for its diplomatic and operational support of the deal.
"The deal for the grain corridor was due to expire today. As a result of our talks with the two sides, we have secured an extension to this deal," Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan said in a speech in the western city of Canakkale.
Neither Erdogan nor the UN statement specified the length of the agreed extension.
Russia wanted to renew the deal for only 60 days, half the term of the previous renewal period, while Ukraine was insisting on a 120-day rollover.
Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said the deal had been extended for 120 days.
"(The Black Sea Grain Initiative) agreement is extended for 120 days," Kubrakov wrote on Twitter. "Grateful to (UN General Secretary Antonio) Guterres, (the) UN, President Erdogan, Minister Hulusi Akar & all our partners for sticking to the agreements," he added.
The UN statement said the deal had allowed the supply of 25 million tonnes of grain and foodstuffs during its first two terms, helping to bring down global food prices and stabilise markets.