By Michelle Nichols
UNITED NATIONS, April 11 (Reuters) – No ships were inspected under Ukraine’s Black Sea Grains Agreement on Tuesday ‘as the parties needed more time to reach agreement on operational priorities,’ the United Nations said, adding, that routine inspections are due to resume on Wednesday.
“We call on all stakeholders to assume their responsibilities and ensure ships continue to move smoothly and safely in the interests of global food security,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement, adding that 50 ships are currently waiting to enter ports to be relocated to Ukraine.
All ships are inspected by officials from Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the United Nations in waters near Turkey en route to and from Ukraine. Officially online Data shows that no ships were inspected on Tuesday.
More than 27.5 million tons of foodstuffs have been exported since July signed the agreement enabling safe military export of grain from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports. Dujarric said this has helped bring down food prices around the world.
“This important work is being carried out against the background of the ongoing war and active hostilities. We don’t underestimate the challenges, but we know they can be overcome,” he said. “The UN team works closely with all sides and takes into account the concerns of all parties.”
The deal – originally brokered by Turkey and the United Nations last July – was extended by at least 60 days last month, half of the allotted period.
“The global humanitarian benefits of the initiative are evident and are not limited to exports to specific low-income countries. It’s in everyone’s interest to keep it going,” Dujarric said.
Russia has announced that it will only extend the agreement beyond May 18 if obstacles to the export of agricultural products and fertilizers are removed. Moscow’s demands include returning the Russian Agricultural Bank to the SWIFT banking system and unblocking the financial activities of fertilizer companies.
To persuade Russia to allow Ukraine to resume its grain exports from the Black Sea last year, a three-year deal was struck in July in which the United Nations agreed to help Russia with its food and fertilizer exports.
Western powers have imposed harsh sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. While its food and fertilizer exports are not sanctioned, Moscow says restrictions on payments, logistics and the insurance industry are impeding supplies.
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Doina Chiacu and Jonathan Oatis)
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