Russia’s Lavrov, UN chief to negotiate grain deal with Ukraine next week

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres will discuss Ukraine’s Black Sea grain export deal in New York next week, just weeks before the pact expires. unless Russian demands regarding its own exports are met.

Lavrov is expected to chair two UN Security Council meetings while Russia takes over the 15-member body’s presidency in April. Russian Ambassador to the UN Vassily Nebenzia said Lavrov and most of his delegation received US visas to travel to New York.

The Russian foreign minister will also meet with Guterres, Nebenzia said. Russia has warned that prospects for the deal allowing safe wartime export of grain and fertilizer from Ukrainian Black Sea ports after May 18 “are not so good”.

“Of course, he will speak about it during his bilateral meeting (with Guterres),” Nebenzia told reporters.

“Nothing is moving forward, efforts are being made, but unfortunately they are fruitless for us,” he said, referring to UN attempts to help facilitate Russia’s own food and fertilizer exports despite sweeping Western sanctions imposed on Moscow. for the invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022.

“We’ve clearly said we want to see progress.”

The grain export deal was brokered by the United Nations and Turkey in July 2022 to help tackle a global food crisis that UN officials say has worsened with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Europe’s deadliest conflict since World War II. .

The pact was extended in November, and last month Russia only agreed to renew the deal for at least 60 days, half of the intended period. Moscow said it would only consider a further extension if several demands regarding its own exports were met.

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