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Blinken, Guterres discuss Russia’s statements to not renew grain deal

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Washington: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in a phone conversation with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, has discussed Russia’s statements to not renew the Black Sea grain deal, State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller said Thursday.

“Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, regarding Russia’s statements to not renew the Black Sea Grain Initiative (BSGI) by the July 17 deadline. Secretary Blinken and Secretary-General Guterres agreed on the importance of the BSGI to global food security and on the adverse impact its suspension would have on food importers, especially in developing countries,” Miller said in a statement.

Blinken thanked the UN chief “for his firm commitment to the principles of the UN Charter, including sovereignty and territorial integrity” in the context of Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine, the statement read.

Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the UN reached an agreement on July 22, 2022, to unblock grain and fertilizer exports in the Black Sea amid hostilities. The package deal included a memorandum between the UN and Russia to facilitate Russian exports, including through the Tolyatti-Odesa ammonia pipeline. Moscow has since agreed to several extensions to the deal, which is now due to expire in mid-July, but complained that its memorandum component was not being fully implemented.

On June 7, the Russian Defense Ministry said that a Ukrainian sabotage group had blown up the Tolyatti-Odesa ammonia pipeline in the Kharkiv Region. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said later that the explosion would complicate the extension of the grain deal.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin said earlier this week that Russia believes July 18 will be the day of the grain deal’s termination.

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