Zelenskyy to host Lviv talks with UN chief and Turkish leader


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LVIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is due to host the UN chief and the Turkish leader on Thursday for talks on the recent agreement to resume grain exports from Ukraine, the volatile situation in a central Russian-occupied nuclear power plant and efforts to help end the nearly six-month war.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres arrived in Lviv, near Ukraine’s border with Poland, on Wednesday, where he will meet Zelenskyy and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

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UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said that among other issues, António Guterres will discuss “his overall efforts to do what he can to bring the temperature down as much as possible with the various authorities.”

Last month, Turkey and the UN helped broker a deal allowing Ukraine to export 22 million tons of corn and other grains stuck in its Black Sea ports since Russia invaded. February 24. A separate memorandum between Russia and the UN aimed to clear roadblocks to Russian food and fertilizer shipments to world markets.

The war and the blocking of exports have greatly exacerbated the global food crisis as Ukraine and Russia are the main suppliers.

Grain prices peaked after the Russian invasion, and while some have since returned to pre-war levels, they remain significantly higher than before the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Developing countries have been particularly affected by supply shortages and high prices. Even though the ships are now leaving Russia and Ukraine, the food crisis is not over.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters this week that Guterres’ trip to Ukraine will allow him “to see first-hand the results of an initiative…which is so important to hundreds of millions of people”.

Dujarric added that he expects “the need for a political solution” to the war to be raised during the talks on Thursday.

He said the three leaders will also discuss the situation at Russia’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine, Europe’s largest, which Moscow and Kyiv have mutually accused each other of bombing.

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In his late night video speech on Wednesday, Zelensky reaffirmed his demand for the Russian military to leave the plant, stressing that “only absolute transparency and control of the situation at and around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant for the Ukrainian state, for the international community and because the IAEA can ensure a gradual return to normal nuclear safety.The International Atomic Energy Agency is an agency of the United Nations.

Russia denied the request.

Erdogan’s office confirmed that he would discuss the grain deal during the talks as well as ways to end the war through diplomatic means.

Earlier this month, the Turkish leader met on the same issues with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In March, Turkey hosted a series of talks between Russian and Ukrainian negotiators, who discussed a possible deal to end hostilities. The talks collapsed after the Istanbul meeting, with both sides accusing each other.

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Erdogan has engaged in a delicate balancing act, maintaining good relations with Russia and Ukraine. Turkey provided Ukraine with drones, which played an important role in deterring a Russian advance early in the conflict, but it refrained from joining Western sanctions against Russia during the war.

Faced with a major economic crisis with official inflation close to 80%, Turkey is increasingly dependent on Russia for trade and tourism. Russian gas covers 45% of Turkish energy needs and the Russian atomic agency is building Turkey’s first nuclear power plant.

When they met in Sochi this month, Putin and Erdogan agreed to strengthen energy, financial and other ties between their countries, raising fears in the West that Ankara could help Moscow circumvent US and European sanctions.

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Follow AP coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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