Bilateral and multilateral meetings on the operation of the grain corridor, involving Ukraine, the UN, and Russia, will take place in Istanbul on 10-11 May, Interfax-Ukraine has reported, citing a statement by the Turkish Ministry of Defence.
"The talks will discuss an extension of the grain deal to ensure the fast, safe and efficient operation of the grain corridor, which is vital for global food supply and security, and to prevent damage to countries in need by ensuring food price stability," it said.
The sides will also discuss a detailed and safe evacuation plan for Turkish merchant ships and their crews stuck in Ukrainian ports due to the war.
The Black Sea Grain Initiative to create a corridor for the export of grain from three Ukrainian ports - Chornomorsk, Odesa and Pivdennyy - was signed in Istanbul on 22 July 2022 with the participation of the UN, Ukraine, Turkey and Russia for 120 days. It has been extended twice, most recently on 18 March.
Ukraine insists that the initiative has been extended for 120 days, while Russia claims that it has been extended for 60 days only and has been blocking inspections of Ukrainian vessels.
As of now, 51 vessels with 670,000 tonnes of various cargoes, including grain, and approximately 230 crew members remain blocked in Ukrainian ports, the Ukrainian Sea Port Authority told Interfax-Ukraine earlier. At the same time, 30 vessels were blocked in the ports of Mykolayiv Region, including eight with more than 165,000 tonnes of agricultural products.
On 5 May, another series of negotiations on an extension of the grain initiative took place, but they hit a deadlock.