U.N. chief in talks on restoring Ukraine grain exports amid global food crisis
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Wednesday that he is in "intense contact" with Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, the United States and the European Union in an effort to restore Ukrainian grain export as a global food crisis worsens, Paralel.Az reports citing Reuters.
"I am hopeful, but there is still a way to go," said Guterres, who visited Moscow and Kyiv late last month. "The complex security, economic and financial implications require goodwill on all sides."
Addressing a food security meeting at the United Nations hosted by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Guterres appealed to Russia to allow "the safe and secure export of grain stored in Ukrainian ports" and for Russian food and fertilizers to "have full and unrestricted access to world markets."
Russia's war in Ukraine has caused global prices for grains, cooking oils, fuel and fertilizer to soar, and Guterres warned this will worsen food, energy and economic crises in poor countries.
"It threatens to tip tens of millions of people over the edge into food insecurity, followed by malnutrition, mass hunger and famine, in a crisis that could last for years," Guterres said.
Ukraine used to export most of its goods through seaports but since Russia's Feb. 24 invasion, it has been forced to export by train or via its small Danube River ports.
U.N. food chief David Beasley appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin: "If you have any heart at all, please open these ports." Beasley heads the World Food Programme, which feeds some 125 million people and buys 50% of its grain from Ukraine.