UN welcomes ‘glimmer of hope’ for resumption of Ukrainian grain exports
Talks between Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and United Nations (UN) officials on resuming Ukrainian grain exports via the Black Sea, held in Istanbul, culminated on Wednesday (13 July) in an agreement on the creation of a coordination center to ensure the security of transport routes.
Much of the cereals imported by developing countries come from Ukraine, but since the Russian invasion, Ukrainian ports on the Black Sea are subject to a blockade, which is particularly the case of the port of Odessa.
Ukraine and the West have accused Moscow of exacerbating the global food crisis by hampering attempts to supply grain to poorer countries and fueling inflation.
The Kremlin has rejected any responsibility for this situation, accusing Ukraine of refusing to remove the mines it has placed along its coastline to protect itself from attacks by Russia and which it says pose a danger to the maritime transport.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres said that a ” critical step had been crossed to allow “safe and secure export”millions of tonnes of grain via the Black Sea, but stressed that no official agreement had yet been signed between Moscow and Kyiv.
The Turkish government has been working for weeks with the United Nations to negotiate an agreement, the invasion of Ukraine by Russia on February 24 having led to a significant increase in the prices of cereals, edible oils, fuels and fertilizer, as well as major supply chain issues around the world.
In a statement, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said an agreement would be signed next week when all parties meet again, adding that the parties had agreed on joint checks to check grain at ports. .
“In a world darkened by global crises, today, at last, there is a glimmer of hope”said António Guterres, during a speech addressed to correspondents at the UN headquarters in New York.
“A beacon of hope to alleviate human suffering and alleviate world hunger. A glimmer of hope to support developing countries and the most vulnerable people. A glimmer of hope to bring some stability to the global food system, which badly needs it. »
“Since the beginning of the war, I have stressed the importance of the availability of Ukrainian food products and Russian food products and fertilizers on world markets”he continued.
He recalled that the war in Ukraine is raging, but that the ” encouraging news» Istanbul talks “show the importance of dialogue”.
Responding to questions from reporters, he also said he hoped the first meeting in Istanbul would lead to another that would be organized” very soon “potentially next week.
According to diplomats, details of the contemplated plan include the idea of Ukrainian vessels guiding grain ships in and out of mined port waters, Russia agreeing to a truce while cargoes flow, and Turkey — backed by the United Nations — inspects ships to address Russia’s fears of arms smuggling.
It is unclear what concessions Moscow might make as part of a possible deal, but it is known that Russia is seeking relief from Western sanctions.
Asked about a possible peace agreement between Russia and Ukraine to end the clashes, António Guterres said there was still“a long way to go”although Wednesday’s developments are a hugely encouraging sign.
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