Russia agrees to extend the Ukraine grain deal again
Turkey and Ukraine say the agreement with Russia to allow grain exports from Ukrainian ports through a safe corridor in the Black Sea has been extended.
The duration of the extension remained uncertain on Saturday, but it will be at least 60 days. Ukraine and Turkey say the extension will be 120 days, but a spokeswoman for Russia's foreign ministry told Russian news agency Tass that Moscow had agreed to extend the deal 60 days.
"As a result of our talks with the two sides, we have secured an extension to the deal," Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.
The agreement was brokered by the United Nations and Turkey last July in an effort to combat a global food crisis. It was extended in November for 120 days and set to expire Saturday.
As the expiration date loomed, Russia made clear that it was only ready to extend the deal until May 18. Turkey's foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, said his country would make efforts to extend the deal beyond two months.
The deal allows Ukraine, one of the world's most important suppliers of grain, to ship grain, related foodstuffs and fertilizer from three Black Sea ports through a maritime humanitarian corridor.
Twenty-five million metric tons of grain and foodstuffs have been exported to 45 countries thanks to the deal, "helping to bring down global food prices and stabilizing the markets," according Stéphane Dujarric, a spokesperson for the U.N. secretary-general.
The deal is "critical for global food security, especially for developing countries," Dujarric said.