Russia agrees to extend Black Sea Grain Initiative by 60 days

Geneva, March 14 : Russia has agreed to extend a Ukraine grain export deal by 60 days after talks with UN representatives in Geneva. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin announced the decision in a statement after leading a delegation to meet UN officials headed by Rebeca Grynspan, secretary-general of the UN Conference on Trade and Development, and Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths, reports Xinhua news agency. Russia "does not object to another extension of the 'Black Sea Initiative' after its second term expiration on March 18, but only for 60 days", Vershinin said. "Our further stance will be determined upon the tangible progress on normalization of our agricultural exports, not in words, but in deeds." The deal signed in July 2022 and brokered by the UN and Turkey allowed Ukraine, one of the world's key wheat producers and exporters, to ship food and fertilizer from three of its Black Sea ports. The agreement has allowed the exports of 24 million metric tonnes of grain, and over 1,600 secure vessel voyages through the Black Sea, with 55 per cent of food exports going to developing countries. According to the Turkish Defence Ministry, at least 790 ships have left Ukrainian ports so far carrying nearly 23.5 million tonnes of grains since the initiative came into being. Nearly 40 per cent of the grain passing through the corridor was transported to Europe, 30 per cent to Asia, 13 per cent to Turkey, 12 per cent to Africa and 5 per cent to the Middle East. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres pushed for the extension of the agreement during meetings with Ukrainian leaders in Kiev last week. On Monday, he reaffirmed that the UN remains fully committed to the Black Sea Grain Initiative, as well as to efforts to facilitate the export of Russian food and fertilizer, according to a UN release. /IANS


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