Cereals: United States calls on Russia to quickly accept the opening of Ukrainian ports

US Agriculture Minister Tom Vilsack on Thursday called on Russia to quickly agree to an opening of Ukrainian ports to allow the millions of tons of grain stored there to be exported, after multiple discussions at the UN.

Cereals: United States calls on Russia to quickly accept the opening of Ukrainian ports

US Agriculture Minister Tom Vilsack on Thursday called on Russia to quickly agree to an opening of Ukrainian ports to allow the millions of tons of grain stored there to be exported, after multiple discussions at the UN.

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Moscow "should act immediately to open these ports and end this war," the minister said at a press conference. "It's a serious thing, we shouldn't use food as a weapon," he insisted.

The UN has been negotiating for several weeks with Moscow, kyiv and Ankara, military guarantors of the use of the Black Sea for civilian ships, an agreement which would allow Ukrainian cereals to leave the country in safety and fertilizers produced by Russia to return to the international market. Moscow complains of obstacles to its exports because of economic sanctions.

If a deal were struck, it would lower food prices and ease the global food crisis, which is worsening due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Tom Vilsack reiterated that the American or European sanctions do not target food and fertilizers.

Regarding the ongoing discussions, the minister said he hoped that the Russians would negotiate “seriously and that they (do) not just to create an image” intended to make people believe in their goodwill.

“I encourage Russia to first end this war and, secondly, to ensure that it negotiates in good faith on the reopening of ports and that it does so quickly. Because the need is immediate,” he insisted.

Asked about a plan by US President Joe Biden to establish silos in Poland to accommodate Ukrainian grain, Tom Vilsack said it was to 'reduce the risk of loss' of grain that may be subject to theft , and to preserve their quality.

On Wednesday, Turkey announced that it was ready to host "a four-way meeting", with the United Nations, Russia and Ukraine, to organize the exit of Ukrainian cereals via the Black Sea.

Several tens of millions of tons of wheat are stuck in Ukrainian ports under blockade or Russian occupation, and their transport is made perilous by the presence of mines in the Black Sea.

“Turkey supports” the plan proposed by the UN “and awaits the return of Russia,” said Foreign Minister Mevlüt Cavusoglu, adding that technical meetings between soldiers were continuing.

"We must respond to everyone's concerns," continued the minister. “Russia wants to be sure that the boats do not carry weapons and Ukraine wants to be sure that Russia will not use these corridors (at sea) to attack,” Cavusoglu explained.

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