Turkish president says new extension of the Black Sea Grain Deal between Moscow and Kiev was reached following Ankara's mediation, emphasising the agreement's importance in terms of global food supply.
A deal allowing the export of Ukrainian grain from Black Sea ports that was due to expire on Saturday has been renewed, according to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
"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," Erdogan said in a speech in the western city of Canakkale on Saturday.
Erdogan but did not disclose how long the extension period was for, and there have been conflicting reports from Kiev and Moscow about the length of the extension.
Ukraine's infrastructure minister said the deal had been extended for 120 days.
"(The) Black Sea Grain Initiative agreement is extended for 120 days. Grateful to Antonio Guterres, the United Nations, President Erdogan, Minister Hulusi Akar and all our partners for sticking to the agreements," Oleksandr Kubrakov said on Twitter.
But Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova was quoted by the RBC media outlet as saying that the agreement has been extended only for 60 days.
The warring nations are both major global suppliers of wheat, barley, sunflower oil and other affordable food products that developing nations depend on.
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Millions of tonnes of grains
In a statement on Tuesday, Turkish defence ministry cited Russia as agreeing to back a 60-day extension to the deal between Moscow and Kiev, which Ankara negotiated with the United Nations.
The Black Sea grain deal has allowed the export of 24 million tonnes of grains, the statement noted, adding that Türkiye will continue to do its part in ensuring peace in the region and humanitarian aid.
However, Ukraine said Russia’s position to extend the deal "only for 60 days" contradicts the agreement which allows only a 120-day extension.
The deal had been previously extended for 120 days in November 2022.
The unprecedented wartime deal allowed grain to flow from Ukraine to countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia where hunger is a growing threat and high food prices are pushing more people into poverty.
Stéphane Dujarric, a spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, welcomed the latest deal, which helped bring down global food prices and stabilized markets.
“We remain strongly committed to both agreements and we urge all sides to redouble their efforts to implement them fully,” Dujarric said.
The war in Ukraine sent food prices surging to record highs last year and helped contribute to a global food crisis also tied to lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and climate factors like drought.
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