Kyiv: A United Nations-brokered deal allowing exports of Ukrainian grain from the Black Sea has been extended for 120 days, according to Ukraine, easing pressure on global food prices.
Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said on Facebook the decision was just made in Istanbul, where talks have been held.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Thursday welcomed the extension of an agreement allowing Ukraine to export grain.
“I welcome the agreement by all parties to continue the Black Sea Grain Initiative to facilitate the safe navigation of export of grain, foodstuffs and fertilizers from Ukraine,” Guterres said in a statement, shared by the Istanbul-based Joint Coordination Center (JCC) that has been overseeing the agreement brokered by Turkey and the UN.
“The United Nations is also fully committed to removing the remaining obstacles to exporting food and fertilisers from the Russian Federation,” he said.
There was no immediate comment from Moscow, and Russian news agency Tass said talks were continuing.
Ukraine still wants the deal extended by a whole year, and with one more port added to the accord, Kubrakov said. He said they are still waiting for a response.
The original pact, struck in late July revived seaborne exports from Ukraine after Russia blockaded the country’s ports following launch of attacks. It was brokered by Turkey and the UN with Ukraine and Russia and signed for an initial 120 days, which are due to run out Saturday. The deal provides for automatic extension for another 120 days unless one of the parties decides to pull out or modify it.
Ukraine - a major exporter to the world - has shipped more than 10 million tonnes of crops through the Black Sea since the deal came into force, led by corn and wheat cargoes. The grain has headed across Asia, Europe and Africa, including some cargoes chartered by the World Food Programme.
Last month, Russia briefly suspended its participation, but after the UN, Turkey and Ukraine vowed to continue anyway, started observing it again.
President Vladimir Putin had complained that the deal didn’t do enough to ease exports of Russian grains and fertilizer, even though they aren’t subject to sanctions and shipment volumes rose.
The UN said it is “fully committed to removing the remaining obstacles to exporting food and fertilizers from the Russian Federation.”