Kremlin says it needs to see more progress after Black Sea grain deal renewal
MOSCOW (Reuters) -The Kremlin on Thursday confirmed that Russia had renewed the Black Sea grain deal for two months after achieving some results in talks which had given it "certain hopes", but said more progress had to be made to advance its own interests.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan announced the extension in a televised speech on Wednesday and it was later confirmed by Russia, Ukraine and the United Nations.
The United Nations and Turkey brokered the agreement - which allows Ukraine to export grain from Black Sea ports - for an initial 120 days in July last year to help tackle a global food crisis that has been aggravated by Russia's war in Ukraine, something it calls "a special military operation."
Moscow had initially appeared unwilling to extend the pact unless a list of demands regarding its own agricultural exports was met.
Commenting on the deal's renewal, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said what he called a "qualified result" for Russia had been achieved in negotiations over easing restrictions on Russian agricultural exports.
In a call with reporters, he said that different scenarios were being worked out regarding easing international payment transfer curbs on Russia's state agricultural bank, one of Moscow's key demands.
"Regarding guarantees for Rosselkhozbank - various options are being explored that would be equivalent to reversing its exclusion from the SWIFT payment system," he said.
"There are certain hopes based on the negotiations that have taken place so far."
Rosselkhozbank on Thursday said the grain deal had nothing to do with a jump in its first-quarter profit as the bank practically does not conduct international settlements currently due to the SWIFT block.
Peskov indicated that Moscow wanted to see more progress in the next two months.
"It is very important to understand that the fate of the deal is still in the hands of those with whom the UN must agree on the Russian part of the deal," said Peskov.
"A certain part of the way has been travelled - there are results - but not definitive ones. We will try to solve this problem definitively within these 60 days."
He added that talks on the export of ammonia from a Russian city to a Ukrainian port via a pipeline were ongoing.
(Reporting by ReutersEditing by Andrew Osborn, Kirsten Donovan)