The Ukraine grain deal is safe, for now: Erdogan

STORY: The Black Sea grain deal that allows safe passage for ships bringing Ukrainian agricultural products through Russia's naval blockade - has been saved from the brink of collapse, for now...

and with it, hope to help head off a mounting global food crisis.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan made the announcement in a speech to his political party just a day before Russia could have quit the deal, over obstacles to its own grain and fertilizer exports.

The president says that, thanks to efforts of Turkey, and the support of its Russian and Ukrainian friends, the Black Sea deal has been extended for two months.

It was initially set to last 120 days from July last year. Ukraine is one of the world's biggest grain exporters and Turkey and the United Nations had been hosting negotiations for the deal's continuance.

The Ukrainian government is welcoming the extension but says Russia must stop using food as a "weapon and blackmail."

Russia's government says the deal is first to help countries most in need and it still has concerns over its own exports. Its food and fertilizer are not subject to Western sanctions, but Moscow says other restrictions including on payments and logistics amount to a de-facto barrier.