Black Sea grain deal extended for two months

by Hussein Hayatsewer and Michelle Nichols

ANKARA/United Nations (Reuters) – An agreement allowing the export of Ukrainian and Russian agricultural products through the Black Sea has been extended for two months, a day before the initiative’s expected expiration by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. First announced on Wednesday.

Russia later confirmed an extension of the initiative concluded last July between Moscow and Kiev under the auspices of Turkey and the United Nations to avoid a world food crisis, while Ukraine is one of the world’s biggest grain exporters.

“The Black Sea Grain Corridor agreement has been extended for two months thanks to Turkey’s efforts,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a televised speech.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the agreement was extended to help countries in need. He added that Russia’s overall assessment of the situation with regard to the deal “has not changed”.

Ukraine, for its part, welcomed the extension of the grain agreement but warned that Russia should stop using food as a “weapon and instrument of blackmail”.

“We welcome the continuation of the initiative, but we stress that it must work effectively,” Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said on Facebook.

(David Ljunggren and Nigel Hunt, with contributions from Pavel Polityuk and Kevin Liffey in Kiev; Writing by Michel Nicholls and Gareth Jones; Blandine Heinault for the French edition, editing by Nicolas Delme)

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