UN chief Guterres hopeful Russia to extend grain pact
Published: Nov 14, 2022 10:42 PM
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres voiced hope on Monday that Russia would extend an expiring deal that gives safe passage to Ukrainian grain shipments, saying the arrangement was crucial for food security.

The UN chief, addressing reporters in Bali, Indonesia ahead of a Group of 20 summit, said that talks over the last week had delivered "a lot of progress" on the deal that is set to end on Saturday.

"I am hopeful that the Black Sea grain initiative will be renewed," Guterres said.

Ukraine is one of the world's top grain producers, and the Russia-Ukraine ­conflict had blocked 20 million tons of grain in its ports until the UN and Turkey brokered the deal in July.

"We need urgent action to prevent famine and hunger in a growing number of places around the world," Guterres said.

"The Black Sea grain initiative and efforts to ensure Russian food and fertilisers can flow to global markets are essential to global food security."

Russia has said it had yet to decide whether to extend the grain deal beyond November 19, the original date in the agreement.

Moscow has complained that a second agreement brokered by the UN and Turkey on its fertilisers being exempt from sanctions had not been respected.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will head Moscow's delegation at the Bali summit, replacing President Vladimir Putin.

Russia's Deputy Foreign Minster ­Sergei Vershinin was quoted by state news agency TASS as saying talks with UN officials in Geneva, Switzerland on Friday had been useful and detailed but the issue of renewing the deal had yet to be resolved.

He also said that there could be no progress unless a Russian state bank that finances the farm sector was reconnected to the international SWIFT bank payments system, from which it has been cut off by Western sanctions.

The UN says 10 million tons of grain and other foods have been exported from Ukraine under the Black Sea initiative agreed in July, helping stave off a global food crisis.