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Turkey's Erdogan announces two-month extension to Ukraine grain deal

Extension comes one day before the deal was due to expire
Bulk carriers at the grain terminal of the port of Odesa, Ukraine on 10 April 2023 (AFP)

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced a two-month extension of a UN-backed deal under which Ukraine grain ships can cross the Black Sea to global markets.

On Wednesday, Erdogan said: "With the efforts of our country, the support of our Russian friends, the contribution of our Ukrainian friends, it was decided to prolong the Black Sea grain deal for two more months."

The announcement came one day before the deal was due to expire.

Russia agreed not to block ships leaving two Ukrainian harbours, Erdogan said, expressing his hope that the deal would be "beneficial for all the parties".

He thanked Russian President Vladimir Putin, his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for their roles in extending the agreement.

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Ukraine was one of the world's major grain exporters before Russia invaded in February 2022. Russian warships blockaded Ukraine's Black Sea ports, sparking a global food crisis.

Turkey and the United Nations first brokered a deal between the warring parties in July 2022, which created safe corridors for the export of Ukrainian produce to assuage the crisis. The deal was renewed in March, for 60 days.

Early in May, Ibrahim Kalin, a chief adviser to President Erdogan, told journalists in Ankara that efforts were under way to persuade the Russians to extend the deal, which allows shipments of more than 25m metric tonnes of grain to be exported to 45 countries via the Black Sea.

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