|A grain ship passes through the Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul, Turkey (Photo: AFP/VNA)
As the preparatory work begins, the UN wants parallel talks to be held on widening the Black Sea deal that was agreed last July to include more Ukrainian ports and other cargoes.
Russia agreed last month to a two-month extension of the deal but has said the initiative will cease unless an agreement is made to remove obstacles to Russian grain and fertilizer exports. Ukraine and Turkey have agreed to the new proposal, intended to expand operations in the Black Sea grain export corridor, but Russia has not yet responded.
The EU agriculture commissioner says it is necessary to extend current Ukraine grain-import restrictions at least until the end of October. The restrictions followed complaints from eastern EU countries that a surplus of Ukrainian grain was driving down local prices and hurting local farmers.
The EU made an agreement with the five states involved - Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia - allowing them to suspend the import of grain from Ukraine. The agreement will expire on June 5.