‘Genuine and constructive’ talks on Ukrainian grain exports in Moscow by UN aid chief – SABC News

UN Aid Director Martin Griffiths in Moscow had “candid and constructive discussions” with Russian officials to promote Ukrainian grain exports from Black Sea ports, a UN spokesperson said Friday.

UN spokeswoman Stefan Dujarric said Griffiths met with officials from the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Defense on Thursday and Friday.

Shipments of Ukrainian grain from Black Sea ports have been halted since Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine, with more than 20 million tonnes of grain stuck in silos.

“We have made it clear what we can and cannot do,” UN Ambassador Vasily Nevenjia told Reuters on Friday.

“No mines have been set up in the Ukrainian coastal area. If they damage the area, we are ready to provide a safe passage for grain-carrying ships.”

Asked if security measures to clear the landmines could be reached, Nevengia said that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov plans to discuss the matter when he visits Turkey next week.

Griffith’s visit to Russia comes days after another senior UN official, Rebecca Greenspan, held “constructive” talks in Moscow to boost Russian grain and fertilizer exports.

Russia says these exports have been hit by Western sanctions.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is trying to mediate what he calls a “package deal” to resume Ukraine’s food exports and Russia’s food and fertilizer exports.

He said on Wednesday that an agreement to lift shipments of commodities such as grain was still a long way off.

“There are a lot of moving pieces in this puzzle,” Dujarric said on Friday.

“We’ve seen a lot of positive comments from different capitals. This is encouraging.”

Russia’s war in Ukraine sparked a global food crisis as prices for grain, cooking oil, fuel and fertilizer soared.

Russia and Ukraine account for nearly a third of the world’s wheat supply.

Russia is also a fertilizer exporter and Ukraine is a major exporter of corn and sunflower oil.

Guterres also spoke with Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko on Friday.

“By the way, they’ve been discussing what’s going on with grains and fertilizers, and what’s going on to bring these things to the world market,” Dujarric said.

Belta news agency Lukashenko told Guterres that Belarus is ready to allow Belarus to ship Belarusian goods to Baltic ports via Belarus if Belarus can ship Belarusian goods from ports.

Belarus, which aided Russia in the war with Ukraine, is also a major global fertilizer exporter, but the United States in December sanctioned the export sector of Belarus’ state-owned potassium producer, punishing Lukashenko for allegations of electoral manipulation and suppression of the opposition.

‘Genuine and constructive’ talks on Ukrainian grain exports in Moscow by UN aid chief – SABC News

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