The United Nations aid chief is calling for Russia and Ukraine to find an agreement to continue the Black Sea grain deal, after stalled talks last week.
Martin Griffiths, the UN's emergency relief coordinator, said efforts continue to extend a deal allowing the safe Black Sea export of grain from Ukraine, a pact Russia has threatened to quit over obstacles to its own grain and fertilizer exports.
"Continuation of the Black Sea Initiative is critically important, as is recommitment by the parties to its smooth and efficient operation," he said.
Last week, Griffiths met with senior officials from Russia and Ukraine in Istanbul, Turkey, but said there was no Russian agreement to extend the deal. Russia is demanding that a pipeline is restarted that delivers Russian ammonia to a Ukrainian Black Sea port, which the United Nations has been pushing for.
US Deputy UN ambassador Robert Wood said Russia is at fault for the failure to continue the Black Sea grain deal so far and that Russia is not interested in negotiating on the extension of the grain deal.
Key background: Turkey, alongside the United Nations, has been helping to broker agreements. The current deal was renewed for 60 days in March and is set to expire on May 18.
A Black Sea grain deal has enabled the passage of Ukrainian ships carrying agricultural products to depart the country, which was a challenge in the early days of the war with Russia preventing the ships from leaving.
The agreement established a procedure that guaranteed the safety of ships carrying Ukrainian grain, fertilizer and other foodstuffs through a humanitarian corridor in the Black Sea.