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Black Sea Grain Initiative Discussed at UN Food Conference in Rome

July 25, 2023, 2022 (EIRNS)—Plenty of verbiage has been spent on restoring the Black Sea Grain Initiative but little action. In a keynote address yesterday at the opening session of the July 24-26 UN Food Systems Summit +2 Stocktaking Moment in Rome, UN Secretary-General António Guterres called on Russia to return to the deal. Guterres said he was committed to unimpeded access to global markets for food products and fertilizers from both Ukraine and Russia, and urged the global community to stand behind that effort, reported Anadolu. He underlined that Russia and Ukraine are “both essential to global food security.” The summit convened yesterday, attended by 2,000 participants, including 22 heads of state or government and more than 100 ministerial delegations, who will “review progress on commitments to action and identify successes, enduring bottlenecks, and priorities to close the implementation gap for food systems transformation.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, speaking on national TV rather than in Rome, said that Türkiye is ready to continue its efforts to settle the Ukrainian crisis and that proposals had been submitted to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. He reiterated that on July 7, he had met with Zelenskyy in Istanbul. “We discussed issues on our agenda. In particular, we exchanged our proposals with regard to the war which has been underway for over 500 days and again stated our readiness to do everything that depends on us on this track,” Erdogan declared.

Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani told TASS in Rome that Italy thinks it necessary to extend the grain deal. “We think that an agreement must be found, because the issue is not so much the conflict itself between Russia and Ukraine, but African countries that are being left without grain. We support any initiatives, Türkiye’s or any mediating initiative. We are working on a peaceful resolution [of the Ukrainian conflict] together with the UN,” he replied to a question as to whether Italy can resume its mediating role, given its traditionally good relations with Russia.

Also speaking on the sidelines of the Rome summit was Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin, who told reporters that the grain deal can’t be restored without Russia. “My opinion is that it is impossible to do this without Russia,” Vershinin said. The problem is that there are no talks underway aimed at restoring it. “Currently, negotiations on the grain deal resumption ... are not being held. We articulated our position clearly. No renewal of the Black Sea Initiative took place after [July] 17. We objected to that. We objected with consideration of the experience in implementation of Istanbul agreements that we accumulated over the year,” he declared.

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