Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced an extension of the Black Sea grain deal Saturday, but he did not specify a new expiration date.
The deal, which was brokered by the United Nations and Turkey last July to guarantee safe passage for ships carrying vital grain exports from Ukraine, had been set to expire today.
“As a result of our negotiations with both parties, we extended the agreement period,” Erdogan said at an event in Turkey’s Çanakkale province.
“This agreement, which has provided the shipment of 25 million tons of grain to the world markets with more than 800 ships to date, is of vital importance for the stability of the global food supply,” Erdogan added. “I would like to thank the Russian and Ukrainian parties and the UN secretary general for their efforts to extend the agreement once again.”
The United Nations praised the extension in a statement.
“We remain strongly committed to both agreements and we urge all sides to redouble their efforts to implement them fully,” said Stéphane Dujarric, a spokesperson for the UN secretary-general.
Some context: The agreement comes after Russia said Monday it had agreed to a 60-day extension of the deal, while the UN emphasized on Thursday that the deal stated it would be extended for 120 days — not 60.
Why the grain deal is important: Ukraine and Russia are both significant suppliers of food to the world. Ukraine – known as one of the globe’s breadbaskets — normally supplies about 45 million metric tons of grain to the global market every year and is the world’s top exporter of sunflower oil. Together with Russia, it accounted for about one-quarter of global wheat exports in 2019.
Before Russia invaded Ukraine, the price of food was already at its highest level in a decade due to scrambled supply chains from the Covid-19 pandemic and extreme weather events.
In 2022, the number of people grappling with acute food insecurity — meaning their access to food was so restricted that it threatened their lives and livelihoods — shot up to 345 million from 135 million in 2019.
CNN’s Julia Horowitz contributed reporting to this post.