U.N. chief pushes Russia, Ukraine to extend Black Sea grain deal

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. Headquarters in New York City, U.S., September 20, 2022. REUTERS/Amr Alfiky

UNITED NATIONS, Nov 3 (Reuters) - Ukraine has exported 10 million tonnes of grain and other food since a U.N.-brokered deal in July restarted shipments stalled by Russia's war, U.N. chief Antonio Guterres said on Thursday as he pushed Russia and Ukraine to extend the pact.

"I appeal to all parties to concentrate efforts in two areas. First, renewal and full implementation of the Black Sea Initiative. Second, removing the remaining obstacles to the exports of Russian food and fertilizer," he told reporters.

The deal could expire on Nov. 19 if Russia or Ukraine object to its extension. Russia suspended participation for several days this week after accusing Ukraine of using the pact as cover to target Russian ships in Crimea. Ukraine has neither confirmed nor denied it was behind the attack.

Russia restarted its cooperation on Wednesday, but President Vladimir Putin said he reserved Moscow's right to withdraw again. If Russia did so, however, Putin said it would not impede shipments of grain from Ukraine to Turkey.

"Over the past few days, I believe the world has come to understand and appreciate the importance of the Black Sea Grain Initiative," Guterres said. "For stemming the food crisis. For easing prices and pressures on people around the world. For reducing the risks of hunger, poverty and instability."

The July deal also aims to facilitate exports of Russian grain and fertilizer exports. Guterres said on Thursday that concerted efforts were needed to urgently address the global fertilizer market crunch, urging the full use of Russian export capacity essential for that purpose.

"High fertilizer prices are already affecting farmers around the world. We cannot allow global fertilizer accessibility problems to morph into a global food shortage," he said.

Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Rami Ayyub and Alison Williams

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