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UN Chief Sees Progress Over Food Crisis, But Deal Still Some Way Off

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Wednesday that he was hopeful of easing the food crisis prompted by the war in Ukrainebut cautioned that any agreement to unblock shipments of commodities such as grain was still some way off.

The conflict has fuelled a global food crisis with surging prices for grains, cooking oils, fuel and fertiliser.

Russia and Ukraine account for nearly a third of global wheat supplies, while Russia is also a key fertiliser exporter and Ukraine a major supplier of corn and sunflower oil.

"I think that there is progress, but we are not yet there. These are complex things and the fact that everything is interlinked makes the negotiation particularly complex," Guterres told a news conference with Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson in Stockholm.

Export Disruptions 

With Russia controlling or effectively blockading all Ukrainian Black Sea ports, grain shipments from Ukraine have stalled since Russia's 24 February invasion while Moscow has blamed the Western sanctions for disrupting exports of both grain and fertiliser.

Guterres, who visited Moscow and Kyiv earlier this year, is trying to broker what he calls a package deal to resume both Ukrainian food exports and Russian food and fertiliser exports as part of efforts by the world body to alleviate the crisis.

"As I said to the security council, I'm hopeful, but there is still a ways to go and we are totally committed to make things happen," he said.

President Vladimir Putin said earlier this week that Russia was willing to facilitate Ukrainian wheat exports through the Black Sea, as well as shipments of Russian fertiliser, if the sanctions were eased.

News by Reuters, edited by Donna Ahern, Checkout. For more Supply Chain stories, click here. Click subscribe to sign up for the Checkout print edition.

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