UPDATE 2 - Pakistan urges Russia to restore Black Sea grain deal

UPDATE 2 - Pakistan urges Russia to restore Black Sea grain deal

Ukrainian foreign minister in Pakistan on 1st such ministerial visit, denies any arms deal with Islamabad


By Aamir Latif

KARACHI, Pakistan (AA) – Pakistan on Thursday urged Russia to restore the Black Sea grain deal to ensure the food security of the developing world.

Addressing a joint news conference with his visiting Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba in Islamabad, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Zardari said that suspension of the UN and Türkiye-brokered grain deal will further raise inflation and food security challenges in the developing countries.

“The Black Sea grain initiative was heralded at the time of its signing. And most of the developing world breathed a sigh of relief,” he added.

“The grain deal was a positive undertaking. It is not only in our interest but in the interest of the entire developing world that the initiative is restored,” he maintained.

Islamabad is a major importer of Ukrainian grain.

He called upon all the stakeholders, including the UN, Russia, Ukraine, and Türkiye, to work together to restore the deal.

The Ukrainian top diplomat, for his part, accused Russia of trying to increase its share in global grain exports by withdrawing from the Black Sea grain deal.

Just two days after withdrawing from the accord, Kuleba went on to charge, Moscow bombed Ukraine's key port involved in grain exports under the accord.

“On one terminal alone, Russian jets destroyed 60,000 tons of grain,” he alleged.

Russia on Monday suspended its participation in the grain deal, which it signed last July to resume grain exports from three Ukrainian Black Sea ports paused after the Russia-Ukraine war began in February last year. Even when renewing the deal in previous months, Moscow complained that the Russian part of the agreement was not being implemented.

- No arms supplies to Ukraine by Pakistan

Islamabad’s top diplomat said Pakistan wants a peaceful solution to the Russia-Ukraine conflict through “dialogue and diplomacy.”

Responding to a question, Zardari and Kuleba rejected reports regarding arms supplies to Kyiv by Islamabad during its war against Moscow.

“These are baseless and unfounded reports by a certain section of media,” Zardari said, insisting that Pakistan has not concluded any defense agreement with Ukraine since the beginning of the war, and will continue to maintain its “nonpartisan” position.

“I can confirm that,” Kuleba said.

Although the two countries have had military and technical cooperation since 1996, there is no recent arms deal with Islamabad, Ukraine’s foreign minister added.

“We want Pakistan to live by our side in a way it finds suitable for itself. We know that Pakistan supports our territorial integrity,” he maintained.

Kuleba hailed Pakistan for sending humanitarian aid for the war-torn Ukrainian people, which “was not an easy decision in terms of the domestic economic situation.”

He also offered Ukraine’s assistance to Pakistan in the fields of food security and digitalization.

- Kuleba meets Pakistan’s prime minister

Kyiv’s top diplomat arrived in Islamabad on Thursday on a two-day official visit to Pakistan.

He met Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to discuss a variety of regional and global issues, including the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war.

They stressed the need for a “negotiated” and “diplomatic” settlement of the conflict in line with the UN charter, said a statement from Sharif’s office.

The conflict in Ukraine has had a “significant global impact that had hurt the economies of many countries,” Pakistan’s premier said.

The top two officials also agreed to enhance the bilateral relations between Pakistan and Ukraine in diverse fields such as trade, investment, defense, education, and culture as well as on regional and global matters of mutual interest, including the security situation in South Asia and Eurasia.

Kuleba, who is the first-ever Ukrainian foreign minister to visit Pakistan since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1992, was received by his Pakistani counterpart upon his arrival at the Foreign Ministry, an official statement said.

The two planted a “tree of friendship” at the garden of Foreign Ministry building.

Later, the two foreign ministers led their counties’ respective delegations in official talks.

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