UPDATE 1-UN, Russia to discuss grain deal with Ukraine on Friday ahead of extension deadline

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(Recast; adds additional UN comment, details)

By Michelle Nichols

UNITED NATIONS, November 9 (Reuters) –

Senior UN officials will meet a high-level Russian delegation in Geneva on Friday to discuss the extension of a Ukrainian grain export deal in the Black Sea and efforts to facilitate Russian food and fertilizer shipments to world markets, the United Nations has announced.

The agreement allowing the export of food and fertilizer from several Ukrainian Black Sea ports – brokered by the United Nations and Turkey on July 22 – could expire on November 19 if Russia or Ukraine oppose its extension.

A key part of July’s overall deal is also to facilitate Russian grain and fertilizer exports. The United Nations

said

that Russian grain exports have increased, but that efforts should be made to lessen the chilling effect of Western sanctions on Russian fertilizer exports.

UN aid chief Martin Griffiths, leading talks on Ukrainian exports, and senior UN trade official Rebeca Grynspan, leading talks on Russian exports of food and fertilizers, will meet Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin on Friday, a UN spokesman said.

“It is hoped that the discussions will advance progress made in facilitating the unhindered export of food and fertilizers from the Russian Federation to world markets,” the UN spokesman said on Wednesday.

Russia suspended its participation in the pact allowing exports to the Black Sea for several days last week after accusing Ukraine of using it as a cover to target Russian ships in Crimea. Ukraine has neither confirmed nor denied being behind the attack.

As Russia resumed cooperation, President Vladimir Putin said he reserved Moscow’s right to withdraw again. If Russia did, however, Putin said he would not prevent grain shipments from Ukraine to Turkey.

More than 10 million tonnes of grain and other foodstuffs were exported from Ukraine under the deal, according to the United Nations. He warned that Russia’s war was deepening a global food crisis and pushing tens of millions more people into hunger. (Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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