UN, Turkey, Ukraine, Russia discuss future of Black Sea grain export deal

Officials from the United Nations, Turkey, Ukraine and Russia have discussed the future of a deal that allows Ukrainian grain to be exported via the Black Sea.

The talks took place in Istanbul on Wednesday and Thursday. The UN and Turkey brokered the export deal last July, so that grain could be safely shipped from Ukrainian ports.

After the meeting, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin told the country's state-run news agency that Russia will not act against its interests. Vershinin reiterated Russia's requests, including that exports of Russian farm products and fertilizers be facilitated.

The Russian side hinted that the deal may be scrapped after May 18, if its requests are not met.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said Turkey hopes the deal will be extended. The ministry described the talks as constructive. Turkey wants the deal to be extended for two months.

UN humanitarian affairs chief Martin Griffiths said the deal is important for global food security.

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said on Twitter that Ukraine is pushing for the deal to be extended.