UN chief calls for continuation of Black Sea grain deal


United Nations, June 21 (IANS) UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged the parties to do their utmost to ensure the continuation of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which allows the export of Ukrainian grain and other agricultural products from Black Sea ports.

In a statement issued by his spokesperson on Tuesday, Guterres also called on the parties to accelerate operations, pointing to the reduction in the movement of vessels coming in and out of Ukrainian sea ports, and a drop in the supply of essential foodstuff to global markets.

Food exports via the Black Sea have fallen from a peak of 4.2 million metric tonne in October 2022 to 1.3 million metric tonne in May, the lowest volume since the grain deal came into operation, according to the statement.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative was signed separately by Russia and Ukraine in Istanbul with Turkey and the UN in July 2022, Xinhua news agency reported.

The initiative, initially in effect for 120 days, was extended in mid-November 2022 for another 120 days till March 18, 2023. At that point, Russia only agreed to extend the deal for 60 days, till May 18, 2023. On May 17, Russia agreed to extend the deal for another 60 days.

As a parallel agreement, Russia and the UN signed a memorandum of understanding on the facilitation of Russian food and fertiliser exports.

The UN chief’s statement said that the UN is fully committed to supporting the implementation of both the initiative and the memorandum of understanding, so that exports of food and fertilisers, including ammonia, from Russia and Ukraine reach markets around the world safely and predictably.

“This is especially critical now as the new grain harvest begins in both Ukraine and the Russian Federation,” said the statement.


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