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Tokyo: G7 agriculture ministers call for extension of Ukrainian grain deal

by gary cartwright
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The Group of Seven (G7) economic powers, currently meeting in Tokyo, called on Sunday for the “extension, full implementation and expansion” of a critical deal to export Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea, the group’s agriculture ministers said in a communique, Reuters reports.

Brokered by the United Nations and Turkey, the deal was signed in Istanbul last July, allowing Ukraine to export more than 27 million tonnes of grain from several of its Black Sea ports.

Russia, which invaded its neighbour in February 2022, has strongly signalled that it will not allow the deal to continue beyond May 18 because a list of demands to facilitate its own grain and fertilizer exports has not been met.

In the communique after a two-day meeting in Miyazaki, Japan, the G7 agriculture ministers “recognised the importance” of the deal, saying: “We strongly support the extension, full implementation and expansion of (the Black Sea Grain Initiative) BSGI.”

“We condemn Russia’s attempts to use food as a means of destabilisation and as tool of geopolitical coercion and reiterate our commitment to acting in solidarity and supporting those most affected by Russia’s weaponisation of food,” the communique said.

G7 members “stand ready” to support recovery and reconstruction of Ukraine, including by providing expertise in de-mining of agricultural land and reconstruction of agricultural infrastructure, the document said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is scheduled to discuss the Ukraine Black Sea grain export deal with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in New York this week.

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The ministers also  agreed to continue to support Ukraine’s agriculture sector, which has been thrown into confusion since Russia’s invasion, The Japan News reported.

The agreement was reached during the ministers’ meeting that started in Miyazaki City the same day. Mykola Solskyi, minister of agrarian policy and food of Ukraine, joined the first-day talks, which centered on measures to strengthen food security, in an online format.

Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Tetsuro Nomura, chair of the G7 meeting, told reporters that farmland and agricultural infrastructure in Ukraine have been destroyed by Russia. He said he told other participants in the meeting that Japan will support Ukraine’s postwar reconstruction including by providing field irrigation technologies.

Image: Pool photo / The Yomiuri Shimbun

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