Ankara (Reuters) – Turkey’s foreign minister said on Friday he agreed with Russia’s request to lift obstacles to Russian fertiliser and grain exports, and that this needed to be addressed to extend the overall Black Sea grain deal involving Ukraine.
Mevlut Cavusoglu told a news conference in Ankara, alongside Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, that Turkey was committed to extending the UN-sponsored deal ensuring safe passage of grains and other commodities from Ukrainian ports.
“We attach importance to the continuation of the agreement…not only for Russia and Ukraine’s grain and fertiliser exports, but also for stopping the world food crisis,” Cavusoglu said.
“We also agree that the obstacles to the export of Russian grain and fertiliser should be removed. Issues need to be addressed for the grain deal to be extended further,” he said.
Lavrov said the two top diplomats discussed the grain deal, a potential gas hub in Turkey, the conflict in Syria, and Ukraine.
NATO member Turkey has positioned itself as an intermediary between Kyiv and Moscow in the 13-month conflict, brokering with the United Nations the only significant diplomatic breakthrough so far.
The deal agreed last July ensures safe passage of vessels despite a Russian naval blockade of Ukraine’s ports.
Last month, Russia said it would extend the agreement for another 60 days despite the UN, Ukraine and Turkey pushing for a repeat 120-day rollover.