UN chief Guterres arrives in Kiev for talks to extend grain deal

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United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has arrived in Kiev where he hopes to negotiate an extension of the UN-brokered wartime grain export deal between Russia and Ukraine.

The negotiation of an extension is with a view to avoiding the worsening of a global grain shortage.

Guterres has planned to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to press for an extension of the deal.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative is currently scheduled to expire on March 19.

The grain export agreement, first struck last July after tense negotiations, is considered one of the few diplomatic successes since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

The deal frees millions of tons of grain and other foods that would otherwise be stuck in Ukraine due to Russia’s invasion and blockade.

It allows for shipments via three Black Sea ports, with Turkey playing a coordinating role.

The deal was previously extended in November after difficult bargaining.

Guterres landed in Poland on Tuesday to travel overland from there to Ukraine.

This is the third visit by the UN chief to the Ukrainian capital since the start of the war.

Sources told dpa that Guterres does not plan to visit Moscow before the deal lapses.

Ukraine and Russia supplied almost a quarter of the world’s grain exports before the war.

The scheme is seen as vital to preventing humanitarian crises in developing countries and to keeping global food prices in check.