Putin: African Union chief to meet with Putin in Russia on Friday – Times of India


DAKAR: The head of the African Union, Senegalese President Macky Sall, will meet with President Vladimir Putin on Friday in the southwestern Russian city of Sochi, Dakar said.
The visit is aimed at “freeing up supplies of grains and fertilizers, the blockage of which mainly affects African countries,” and easing conflict in Ukraine, Sall’s office said Thursday.
The visit was organized at the invitation of Putin and Sall will travel with the African Union Commission chairman, his office added.
The AU will also receive a video address from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, although no date has been set.
The war in Ukraine has skyrocketed the cost of fuel, grain and fertilizer around the world, which is acutely felt in African countries.
Both Ukraine and Russia are major suppliers of wheat and other grains to Africa, while Russia is a major producer of fertilizers.
The UN said last month that Africa is facing an “unprecedented” crisis brought on by the war, which exacerbates the difficulties the continent faces, from climate change to the coronavirus pandemic.
Earlier this week, Sall called on European Union leaders to help ease the crisis on key commodities.
He said their decision to remove Russian banks from the SWIFT financial messaging system could hurt food supplies to the continent.
“When the SWIFT system is disrupted, it means that even if the products exist, payment becomes complicated, if not impossible,” Sall said via video link.
“I would like to insist that this matter be examined by our competent ministers as soon as possible in order to find appropriate solutions,” he added.
Sall acknowledged that the Russian blockade of Odessa had harmed Ukrainian food exports, and he supported UN-led efforts to liberate the port.
Russia has come under a barrage of sanctions from the West after its invasion of Ukraine on February 24, in an attempt to punish Moscow for the military intervention.

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