AU expresses 'regret' over Russia's grain deal exit
AU expresses 'regret' over Russia's grain deal exit

The African Union expressed "regret" on Tuesday over Russia's decision to suspend a deal allowing safe passage for grain cargo ships from Ukrainian Black Sea ports.

"I regret the suspension of the Black Sea Grain Initiative for which the African Union had been an early advocate," AU Commission chair Moussa Faki Mahamat said on his official Twitter account.

"I urge parties to resolve any issues to resume the continued safe passage of grains & fertilizer from Ukraine and Russia to where it is needed, particularly in Africa."

Moscow's military operations last year saw Ukraine's Black Sea ports blocked by warships until a deal brokered by the UN and Turkey and signed in July 2022 allowed for the passage of critical grain shipments.

On Monday, Russia refused to extend that agreement, threatening to cut off already reduced food supplies on which vulnerable populations in grain importing nations are dependent.

Humanitarian groups say it will be acutely felt in many parts of Africa, which is heavily reliant on grain from Russia and Ukraine, and where millions of people are already facing crisis levels of hunger.

Cereal prices in the world's poorest continent have surged because of the slump in exports, sharpening the impact of conflict and climate change.

(With input from AFP)

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