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17 Nov, 2022 10:14

UN chief ‘welcomes’ agreement on grain deal

The Black Sea initiative is set to be renewed, Antonio Guterres said
UN chief ‘welcomes’ agreement on grain deal

The scheme that allows Ukraine to export its grain via the Black Sea is to be extended beyond its current deadline of November 19, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has indicated.

The official said he welcomed “the agreement by all parties” to prolong the Black Sea Grain Initiative, in a tweet on Thursday.

“The initiative demonstrates the importance of discreet diplomacy in finding multilateral solutions,” he added.

Minutes earlier Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky tweeted that the scheme would be renewed for 120 more days, adding that official confirmation from the UN and Türkiye was pending.

The initiative was negotiated by Ukraine and Russia through the mediation of the UN and Türkiye in July. The terms provide for automatic renewal, unless one of the parties objects.

Kiev, which refuses direct talks with Moscow, insists that its obligations under the deal were made only to the two mediators. In practice Russian experts are part of a team based in Türkiye and are responsible for inspecting ships sailing under the arrangement.

Russian officials have expressed concerns about various aspects of the accord. It was initially touted as a mechanism to alleviate food shortages in the world's poorest countries, but many of the shipments went to rich European nations instead, Moscow pointed out.

“We favor the extension of the grain deal, but we insist that the grain that is supplied under the Black Sea agreement goes exactly to the countries that need it most, not to Western countries, and not to Europe, as it is happening now,” Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov told RT on Wednesday.

Other complaints were about the UN’s failure to lift Western restrictions on Russian exports, which Moscow says harm its ability to deliver food and fertilizers. The organization pledged to work on the issue when the grain deal was signed.