Trkiye says talks continue for Black Sea grain deal extension

As the Black Sea grain deal is set to expire within days, Trkiye said on Tuesday that talks on its extension are still underway.

Turkish National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and the relevant authorities continue to negotiate and coordinate to carry on with the activities of the grain deal and to extend it in accordance with the agreement, with demands of the parties taken into account, the National Defense Ministry said in a statement.

"In these talks, the parties are reminded of the importance of continuing this initiative, which has a positive impact on humanity around the world and proves that all crises can be resolved with goodwill and dialogue," it read.

The Black Sea grain deal has allowed the export of 24 million tons of grain, the statement noted, adding that Trkiye will continue to do its part in ensuring peace in the region and humanitarian aid.

It also said, "the steps taken by the parties to extend the initiative are appreciated."

Last July, Trkiye, 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.

The deal, extended for 120 days in November 2022, will expire on Saturday.

Trkiye's statement came a day after Russia said it backs a 60-day extension to the landmark deal.

However, Ukraine on Monday said Russia's position to extend the deal "only for 60 days contradicts document."

"We're waiting for the official position of UN and Turkey as the guarantors of the initiative," Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said on Twitter.

Meanwhile, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko on Tuesday told Russia's official news agency TASS that the deal has been extended for 60 days, a claim which is yet to be confirmed by Ukraine or Trkiye and the UN, the facilitators of the deal.

"Our Deputy Minister (Sergey Vershinin), who is leading this deal, made a statement yesterday. Indeed, the deal has been extended, it has been agreed that it has been extended for 60 days. Its package nature has been reaffirmed," Grushko was quoted as saying by TASS.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Tuesday told reporters that the extension of the grain deal for 60 days is a "gesture of goodwill" on the part of Russia.

He expressed Russia's appreciation for the UN efforts on the deal, but said it was not possible to "break through the blank wall" of the West.

The UN is yet to comment on the extension, however, a spokesman on Monday said the bloc "remains fully committed to the Black Sea grain initiative, as well as to efforts to facilitate the export of Russian food and fertilizer."

Source: Anadolu Agency