UPDATES WITH STATEMENT FROM RUSSIAN FM
By Diyar Guldogan and Ali Cura
ANKARA (AA) - The Black Sea grain deal that was due to expire on Sunday has been extended, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Saturday.
"As a result of our negotiations with both parties, we have ensured the extension of the agreement period expiring on March 19," Erdogan said at a ceremony in the Canakkale province.
Erdogan thanked Russia, Ukraine and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for their efforts to extend the agreement once again.
"This agreement, which has provided the shipment of 25 million tons of grain to the world markets with more than 800 ships to date, is of vital importance for the stability of the global food supply," he added.
Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said the deal "is extended for 120 days."
"Grateful to Antonio Guterres, President Erdogan, (Turkish National Defense) Minister Hulusi Akar and all our partners for sticking to the agreements. Due our joint efforts, 25M tons of Ukrainian grain delivered to world markets," he said on Twitter.
Last July, Türkiye, the UN, Russia, and Ukraine signed a deal in Istanbul to resume grain exports from three Ukrainian Black Sea ports which were paused after the Russia-Ukraine war began in February 2022.
Meanwhile, the UN said in a statement that 25 million metric tons of grain and foodstuffs have been moved to 45 countries, helping to bring down global food prices.
"We express our gratitude to the Government of Türkiye for the diplomatic and operational support to the Black Sea Grain Initiative.
"The Black Sea Grain Initiative, alongside the Memorandum of Understanding on promoting Russian food products and fertilizers to the world markets, are critical for global food security, especially for developing countries," the statement said.
The UN said it remains strongly committed to both agreements and urges all sides to redouble their efforts to implement them fully.
Later, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told TASS news agency that the deal has been extended for 60 days.
"We - both the Russian Foreign Ministry and Russia's permanent representatives to the UN - have repeatedly stated that the Russian side has notified all parties to the deal that it is extending the deal for 60 days. All parties were notified of this verbally and in writing by means of special notes," she said.