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Russia could be ready for Black Sea grain deal talks, but no evidence yet: US

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UNITED NATIONS: The United States has been told that Russia is prepared to return to talks on a deal that had allowed the safe Black Sea export of Ukraine grain, but “we haven’t seen any evidence of that yet,” the US envoy to the United Nations said on Tuesday (Aug 1).

Russia quit the deal on Jul 17. US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said that if Russia wants to get its own fertiliser to global markets and make agricultural transactions “they’re going to have to return to this deal”.

“We have seen indications that they might be interested in returning to discussions. So we will wait to see whether that actually happens,” she said at a press conference, without giving further details.

Moscow has said that if its demands to improve its own exports of grain and fertiliser were met it would consider resurrecting the Black Sea agreement, brokered in July 2022 by the UN and Turkey to help ease a global food crisis following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Moscow is ready to return without delay to the grain deal. But after the conditions for Russia are fulfilled,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov reiterated to RIA state news agency on Tuesday.

Russia’s grain and fertiliser exports are not subject to Western sanctions but Moscow has said restrictions on payments, logistics and insurance have been a barrier to shipments.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres met a week ago with Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin – who led Moscow’s negotiations to agree the Black Sea deal – on the sidelines of a UN food systems summit in Rome.

“Had there been a breakthrough, I think it would have been shared with you,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Friday.

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