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Zelenskyy, Guterres call for extension of Black Sea grain export deal

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy during the meeting with UN Secretary-General António Guterres in Kyiv on 8 March.

On 8 March, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres arrived in Ukraine to discuss the continuation of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, the restoration of peace, and international security.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative was signed in July 2022 by the UN, Ukraine, and Türkiye to unblock grain supplies stuck in Black Sea ports occupied by Russian troops.

During the meeting, Guterres and Zelenskyy called for the extension of the grain deal, which expires on March 18 unless the continuation is agreed.

Earlier, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia would only agree to extend the Black Sea Initiative if the interests of its own agricultural producers were considered. The West has imposed sanctions on Russian logistics and insurance industries which block the export of its grains and fertilizers, the Voice of America reported.

In addition, the interlocutors discussed ways to stop Russian nuclear blackmail and restore the safety of all Ukrainian nuclear power stations, including Zaporizhzhia NPP, which was repeatedly attacked by Russian troops.

“ZNPP should return under full Ukrainian control – it is a matter of global, not only Ukrainian security,” Zelenskyy emphasized.

During the talks, Guterres noted that the UN would continue to help Ukraine to resolve humanitarian issues, including the exchange of prisoners of war.

“The recent shocking images of a Ukrainian soldier apparently being summarily killed is yet another tragic reminder that the laws of war must be strictly respected,” he said.

 

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