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UN says consultations for grain deal extension continue

March 14, 2023 at 1:54 pm

European headquarter of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland [Fatih Erel/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images]

The UN said, on Tuesday, the consultations for the Black Sea grain deal extension, which is set to expire on 18 March, continue, Anadolu News Agency reports.

Asked by Anadolu about how the UN sees the 60-day time limit on the new extension announced by the Russian side following their Monday meeting, and if the UN seeks a longer period of extension, Jens Laerke, the spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said that for now, the current agreement is valid.

“The United Nations noted the announcement made by the Russian Federation an extension of the Black Sea regarding Grain Initiative for 60 days,” Laerke said, and added that they are “fully behind” the Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres’ remark in which he confirmed that they will do everything possible to preserve the integrity of the agreement and to ensure its continuity.

His remarks came during the weekly UN press briefing in Geneva.

“Meeting with Russian Federation here in Geneva concluded yesterday as agreed; however, consultations continue at all levels,” he added.

Asked by reporters what will be the procedure for the extension, he went on to say: “We will see what happens on Saturday.”

Catherine Huissoud, the UN Conference on Trade and Development spokeswoman, said for her part that they “do not have any additional information”.

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“So we stick to the statement that was shared with us. And we have no further comments,” Huissoud said.

On Monday, the Russian deputy Foreign Minister said Moscow does not object to another extension of the Black Sea Grain Initiative “but only for 60 days“.

Sergey Vershinin’s remarks came in a statement following a Russian delegation meeting with UN Conference on Trade and Development Secretary-General, Rebecca Grynspan and UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Martin Griffiths.

According to the TASS news agency, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Alexander Grushko, on Tuesday said: “Indeed, the deal has been extended – it has been agreed that it has been extended for 60 days.”

On Monday, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister, Oleksandr Kubrakov, said Russia’s position to extend the Black Sea grain deal “only for 60 days contradicts the document” signed by Turkiye and the UN in July 2022.

The grain initiative has allowed the exports of 24 million metric tons of grains and over 1,600 secure vessel voyages through the Black Sea with 55 per cent of food exports going to developing countries, the UN said Monday in a statement where it noted Russia’s announcement.

Last July, Turkiye, the UN, Russia and Ukraine signed an agreement 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 was extended for 120 days in November.

READ: Russia raises doubts about grain deal renewal as deadline looms