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Under the Black Sea Grain Initiative, over 30 million tons of food have been exported so far.
On Wednesday, United Nations Secretary Antonio Guterres welcomed Russia's decision that would allow the extension of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which allows the export of Ukrainian grain and other agricultural products from Black Sea ports.
"We have some positive and significant developments: confirmation by the Russian Federation to continue its participation in the Black Sea Initiative for another 60 days. I welcome this decision," said Guterres. "The continuation is good news for the world."
Outstanding issues remain, but representatives of Russia, Ukraine, Türkiye and the United Nations will keep discussing them, he told reporters at the UN headquarters in New York.
"I hope we will reach a comprehensive agreement to improve, expand and extend the initiative, as I proposed in a recent letter to the presidents of the three countries."
The importance of the Black Sea Grain Initiative -- and the parallel memorandum of understanding between the United Nations and Russia on the facilitation of exports of Russian food and fertilizer -- is clear. These agreements matter for global food security. Ukrainian and Russian products feed the world, said Guterres.
Under the Black Sea Grain Initiative, over 30 million tons of food have been exported. Vital food supplies are reaching some of the world's most vulnerable people and places, including 30,000 tons of wheat that just left Ukraine to feed hungry people in Sudan, said the UN chief.
The agreements matter because the world is still in the throes of a record-breaking cost-of-living crisis. And they matter because they demonstrate that, even in the darkest hours, there is always a beacon of hope and an opportunity to find solutions that benefit everyone, he said.
Guterres noted that over the last year, global food markets have stabilized, volatility has been reduced and global food prices fell by 20 percent.
"Looking ahead, we hope that exports of food and fertilizers, including ammonia, from the Russian Federation and Ukraine will be able to reach global supply chains safely and predictably -- as foreseen in both the Black Sea Initiative and the memorandum of understanding on Russian food and fertilizer exports, the implementation of which the United Nations is fully committed to support," he said.
The Black Sea Grain Initiative was signed separately by Russia and Ukraine in Istanbul with Türkiye and the UN on July 22, 2022. The deal, initially in effect for 120 days, was extended in mid-November 2022 for another 120 days till March 18, 2023. At that point, Russia only agreed to extend the deal for a further 60 days, till May 18, 2023.
As a parallel agreement, Russia and the United Nations signed the memorandum of understanding on the facilitation of exports of Russian food and fertilizer. But the parallel agreement has not made much progress.