UN secretary-general pushes to extend grain deal

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says a deal to export grain through the Black Sea has helped to feed those suffering through famine. He and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres have called for the agreement to be extended.

Guterres made his third visit to Kyiv since the start of the war. On Wednesday, he said UN officials want a "just peace" and, until that happens, they will work to ease the impact of the conflict. He and Zelenskyy agreed that renewing the grain deal is of "critical importance."

Guterres said, "It contributed to lowering the global cost of food and has offered critical relief to people who are also paying the high price for this war, particularly in the developing world."

Negotiators from the UN and Turkey brokered the Black Sea Grain Initiative last July. The deal has freed up 23 million metric tons of grain from Ukrainian ports.

Those shipments, along with others of Russian food and fertilizer, have helped to stabilize global prices. The parties extended the deal in November and will again on March 18 if none of them object.

However, Russian officials say Western sanctions on their payments, logistics, and insurance industries are a "barrier."