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Putin, African Union head meet Friday to discuss food crisis



Russian President Vladimir Putin will host the African Union leader on Friday for talks focused on cereal supplies and political cooperation amid Kremlin disagreements with the West over Ukraine.

Washington and Brussels imposed unprecedented sanctions against Moscow over the attack in Ukraine, forcing Putin to seek new markets and strengthen ties with African and Asian countries.

Cereal prices in Africa, the poorest continent in the world, have risen due to the downturn in exports from Ukraine, exacerbated by the effects of conflict and climate change and frightening social unrest.

On Friday, Putin will receive Senegal President Macky Sall, who chairs the African Union, at his Black Sea residence in Sochi.

The visit is aimed at “freeing up stocks of cereals and fertilizers, the impact of which is particularly affecting African countries”, as well as easing the Ukrainian conflict, Sall’s office said Thursday.

Sall will be accompanied by the president of the Commission of the African Union.

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The Kremlin said talks would address “issues of Russia’s interaction with the African Union, including the expansion of political dialogue, economic and humanitarian cooperation.”

It will also discuss “the current international agenda”, he said.

Moscow’s military campaign in Ukraine and a barrage of international sanctions on Russia disrupted supplies of fertilizers, wheat and other commodities from both countries, putting pressure on food and fuel prices, especially in developing nations.

– ‘Unprecedented Crisis’ –

Ships loaded with grain remain in Ukraine, which before February was a major exporter of corn and wheat and accounted for 50 percent of global trade in sunflower seeds and oil.

Putin has said Moscow is ready to look for ways to ship grain stuck in Ukrainian ports but has called for Western lift sanctions.

Food prices in Africa have already been breached as a result of the 2011 Arab springs and the 2008 food riots.

The UN has called for an “unprecedented” crisis facing Africa as a result of the conflict.

Sall earlier urged European Union leaders to help alleviate the crisis on key commodities and said their decision to expel Russian banks from the SWIFT financial messaging system could harm food supplies to the continent.

However, Sall acknowledged that the Russian blockade of the city of Odessa in Ukraine had damaged food exports, and supported UN – led efforts to liberate the port.

In 2019, Putin hosted dozens of African leaders in Sochi to try to reaffirm Russia’s influence on the continent.

Although never a colonial power in Africa, Moscow was a key player on the continent in the Soviet era, supporting independence movements and training a generation of African leaders.

Russia’s ties with Africa deteriorated with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and in recent years China has emerged as a major foreign power on the continent.

Putin, African Union head meet Friday to discuss food crisis Source link Putin, African Union head meet Friday to discuss food crisis

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