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Negotiations on extending the grain agreement. US Department of State: A Critical Instrument at a Critical Time

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The U.S. State Department said negotiations on extending the grain deal to ship food from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports are “at a critical juncture.” The dispute concerns the duration of the new contract. Russia agrees to extend the grain deal by 60 days, Ukraine demands at least 120 days.

State Department Spokesperson USA Ned Price said the world needed an initiative that would allow the supply of grain to developing countries and help lower food prices. “This is a critical instrument at a critical time,” he said.

“The Russian side (…) does not oppose the further extension of the ‘Black Sea Initiative’ after its expiry on March 18, but only for 60 days,” wrote the deputy head of the Russian Foreign Ministry Sergei Vershinin in a statement quoted by Reuters and AFP. He made it clear that in return Russia expects the lifting of restrictions on its exporters of agricultural products.

Ukrainian ships loaded with grainTwitter/OlKubrakov

“Our further position will depend on tangible progress in the normalization of our agricultural exports, not in words, but in deeds,” Vershinin added and stressed that the sanctions imposed on the Russian payment, logistics and insurance sectors have created a barrier to the possibility of grain and fertilizer exports from Russia .

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According to Reuters, a senior Ukrainian government official involved in the talks said that Kiev considered extending the agreement by 60 days as a violation of its terms. “The agreement clearly states that it is possible to extend it for at least 120 days,” he said. “To extend it by 60 days, you need to change its content,” he added.

The grain deal expires

Spokesman UN Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York that “everything is being done to preserve the integrity and ensure the continuity of the deal.”

The current agreement, which aims to facilitate the export of agricultural products from Black Sea ports to Ukraineexpires March 18.

In July last year, representatives of Ukraine and Russia concluded an agreement with Turkey and the UN, two separate “mirror” agreements, unlocking the export of Ukrainian grain through Black Sea ports.

On October 29, Russia announced that it was withdrawing from the “grain initiative” due to Ukraine’s alleged attack on Russian warships in Sevastopol, and exports were halted. On November 17, however, an extension of the contract for another 120 days was announced.

Main photo source: Twitter/OlKubrakov

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