By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) - The US expressed gratitude to Türkiye and the UN on Monday for a recently-brokered 60-day extension of a key accord to facilitate grain exports from Ukraine's Black Sea ports.
National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said that over the weekend two ships left Ukrainian ports bound for predominantly low and middle-income nations with hundreds of thousands of metric tons of corn.
Those nations "have been suffering no question and suffering since the beginning of this war with food insecurity," said Kirby.
"We're grateful for the work of Turkey for the UN to move forward with that," he told reporters at the White House. "We're focused on now that this is extended, making sure we get those ships loaded, and get them out, and get them to places where they need to be."
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the deal's extension on Saturday, one day before it was slated to lapse.
Last July, Türkiye, the UN, Russia, and Ukraine signed a deal in Istanbul to resume grain exports from three Ukrainian BlackSea 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 SeaGrain 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.