Ukraine's president seeks extension of Black Sea grain export deal

FILE PHOTO: German President Steinmeier and Ukraine's President Zelenskiy attend a joint news briefing in Kyiv
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KYIV (Reuters) - Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy told the visiting U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations on Tuesday that the Black Sea grain export deal that unblocked three major Ukrainian ports must be extended.

The deal, agreed in July under the mediation of the United Nations and Turkey, lifted a blockade that Russia imposed on e Ukraine's Black Sea ports after its Feb. 24 invasion.

The initiative expires on Nov. 19 and appeared under threat last month when Moscow briefly suspended its participation in the deal before rejoining again.

"We maintain the line that the initiative must continue regardless of whether the Russian Federation is willing," Zelenskiy told the ambassador, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, during talks in Kyiv.

He added on the Telegram messaging app: "Ukraine is ready to remain the guarantor of world food security."

Ukraine's deputy infrastructure minister told Reuters on Tuesday that Kyiv wants the grain export deal expanded to include more ports and goods, and hopes a decision to extend the agreement for at least a year will be taken next week.

(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk and Max Hunder, Editing by Timothy Heritage)