19 May 2023 19:38

Grain initiative talks continuing - Ukrainian deputy territorial development minister

MOSCOW. May 19 (Interfax) - The negotiations that have resulted in unblocking the grain deal and extending it until July 18 have not yet been finished and are continuing, taking into account UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres's proposal that the grain initiative be improved and expanded on conditions advantageous to all parties, Ukrainian Deputy Minister of Communities and Territories Development Yury Vaskov said.

"When all parties view such a proposal as acceptable, then the matter will be discussed, but only through the prism of Ukraine's interests. We're fully implementing everything that is concluded and signed within the framework of the Black Sea Grain Initiative," Vaskov said in an interview with Ukrainian media.

Ukrainian farmers need a predictable long-term period during which the deal will remain in effect, Vaskov said. "Therefore, certainly, we will propose increasing the term. However, the primary goal now is to ensure the functioning of the signed version of the deal, and then we will propose things complying with international trade standards," Vaskov said.

Ukraine is still convinced that the original duration of the deal signed and the duration of periods for which it can be extended is 120 days unless another period is agreed, he said.

Commenting on Russia's terms for extending the deal, such as the work of Rosselkhozbank, the lifting of the EU's sanctions on the insurance of ships carrying foodstuffs and ban on their calls at European ports, an exemption of spare parts for EU- or U.S.-made agricultural machinery from sanctions, and the unblocking of assets of Russian agricultural producers, Vaskov said they "are not related to Ukraine."

Asked whether the initiative could be expanded to other commodities, Vaskov said this would fully meet Ukraine's interests. "Certainly, we are interested and will do that at the first opportunity."