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By Michelle Nichols
UNITED NATIONS, Dec 9 (Reuters) – Belarus told the United Nations on Friday that it would allow, without preconditions, the transit of grain from Ukraine through its territory for export from Lithuanian ports, a U.N. spokesman said.
Belarus, used by its ally Russia as a staging ground for Moscow’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, said in June that it would let Ukrainian grain go via the country to Baltic Sea ports, if Belarus was allowed to ship its goods from the ports as well. Ukraine did not agree to the proposal.
Belarus Deputy Foreign Minister Yury Ambrazevich met with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in New York on Friday to tell him that there are no preconditions to the transit of Ukraine grain, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.
Ambrazevich also “reiterated the requests from his government to be able export its own fertilizer products, which are currently subject to sanctions,” Dujarric said in a statement after the meeting.
Belarus, a major global potash producer, has been hit by harsh Western sanctions in 2021-2022 which disrupted its exports of the fertiliser via the Baltic Sea ports.
In July the United Nations and Turkey brokered a deal with Russia and Ukraine to resume Ukraine’s Black Sea shipments of grain – stalled since the start of the war – and to facilitate Russia’s food and fertilizer shipments.
The United Nations is still working to resume Russian ammonia exports, a key fertilizer ingredient, via a pipeline to a Black Sea port in Ukraine.
The United Nations has said Russia’s war in Ukraine worsened a global food crisis, pushing some 47 million people into “acute hunger” and sparking the need for the July export deal, which was renewed for another 120 days last month. (Reporting by Michelle Nichols and Kanishka Singh; editing by Diane Craft)