Guterres applauds ‘critical step forward’ in resuming grain exports from Ukraine


Secretary General António Guterres said a “critical step forward” had been taken to enable the “safe export” of millions of tons of grain through the Black Sea, but stressed that no formal agreement has yet been signed between Russia and Ukraine.

the government of Türkiye has been working with the UN for weeks to strike a deal, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, which saw the prices of grains, cooking oil, fuel and fertilizer soar, along with major supply chain problems over the whole world.

Need for stability

Much of the grain imported by developing countries comes from Ukraine, but since the invasion, the country’s Black Sea ports have been blocked by Russia, including the crucial center of Odessa.

In a world darkened by global crises, today we finally have a glimmer of hopesaid Mr Guterres, briefing correspondents at UN headquarters in New York.

“A glimmer of hope to ease human suffering and alleviate hunger around the world. A ray of hope to support developing countries and the most vulnerable people. A ray of hope to bring some much-needed stability to the global food system

The UN chief said the UN was represented in the negotiations in Istanbul by Martin Griffiths, head of Humanitarian Affairs, and Rebeca Grynspan, head of the United Nations Agency for Trade and Development, UNCTAD.

“Since the war started, I have underlined the importance of having fully available Ukrainian food products and Russian food and fertilizers in world markets,” the UN chief said.

‘A deal for the world’

“Ultimately, the goal of all parties is not just an agreement between the Russian Federation and Ukraine, but an agreement for the world.”

He thanked Türkiye for his “excellent efforts” in convening the talks and saluted all participants for their work to secure an agreement for our common humanity.”

Today is an important and substantive step. A step towards a comprehensive agreementWe also need to do more for those in need and for developing countries ravaged by a food, energy and financial crisis that they did not create.”

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Importance of dialogue

He recalled that the war in Ukraine continues, but the “hopeful news” of the Istanbul talks, “shows the importance of dialogue

Responding to questions from reporters, the secretary-general said he hoped the first meeting in Istanbul would lead to another “very soon”, possibly next week.

Asked about the wider possibility of a peace deal being reached between Russia and Ukraine to end the fighting, Mr Guterres said there is still “a long way to go”, although Wednesday’s developments were an extremely encouraging sign.

© FAO/Genya Savilov

A truck unloads corn kernels at a grain processing plant in Skvyra, Ukraine.

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