Pope calls on Russia to reverse its withdrawal from Black Sea grain deal

Pope calls on Russia to reverse its withdrawal from Black Sea grain deal

Pope Francis' call comes during his weekly Angelus message

By Beyza Binnur Donmez

GENEVA (AA) - Pope Francis on Sunday called on Russia to reverse its decision earlier this month to abandon the Black Sea grain corridor agreement.

"I appeal to my brothers, the authorities of the Russian Federation, so that the Black Sea initiative may be resumed and grain may be transported safely," Francis said in his Sunday Angelus address to a crowd gathered in the Vatican’s St. Peter's Square.

Calling grain God's gift to feed humanity, he said the destruction of it through war is a "a grave insult to God," referring to recent Russia airstrikes on the Ukrainian coastal city of Odesa.

He also exhorted the crowd to keep praying for Ukraine.

On July 17, Russia unilaterally withdrew from the Black Sea Grain Initiative, a UN and Turkish-brokered pact that saw grain shipments depart from Ukrainian ports last summer for the first time since Moscow began its war against its eastern European neighbor in February.

The agreement helped alleviate global food insecurity by creating a safe corridor through the Black Sea for exports from three Ukrainian ports that had been blockaded by Russia since the war began. Ukraine, like Russia, is one of the world's largest exporters of grain.

After it quit the agreement earlier this month, Russia bombed Ukraine's port cities, particularly Odesa.

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