Russia committed to meet full orders of grain exports to Egypt: FM Lavrov in Cairo

Ahram Online , AFP , Sunday 24 Jul 2022

Russia's top diplomat reassured Egyptian leaders Sunday that their orders for Russian grain would be met as he began a tour of African countries dependent on imports for their food supply.



"We confirmed the commitment of Russian exporters of cereal products to meet their orders in full," Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told a news conference after talks with Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry.

"President Vladimir Putin stressed this during a recent telephone call with Egyptian President (Abdel-Fattah) El-Sisi."

Before the outbreak of the Russian-Ukrainian war, Egypt relied for its 80 percent of wheat imports on Russia and Ukraine. 

Lavrov, who is in Cairo as part of an African tour, held talks on a host of regional and international issues, including the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, with Shoukry at the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs headquarters.

The top Russian diplomat said the sanctions, including those related to customs fees, harm food supply chains around the world and therefore "restrict our relations with Africa."

Russia, Lavrov said, has signed the Istanbul agreement that aims to remove obstacles that hinder the movement of ships from Black Sea ports.

On Friday, Ukraine and Russia signed an agreement brokered by Turkey and the United Nations to help relieve a global food crisis caused by blocked Black Sea grain exports.

Between 20 million and 25 million tons of grain have been blocked in Ukrainian ports since Russian troops invaded in February, as Ukraine has laid naval mines to prevent an amphibious invasion of its coast, according to AP.

The deal provides for the creation of safe corridors for grain exports from three Ukrainian ports, and also seeks to facilitate Russian grain exports by removing them from the scope of Western sanctions.

During the press conference, the Russian foreign minister said that Russia is not opposed to the resumption of talks with Kyiv on issues other than food security, charging that Kyiv insists on a military victory.

The FM also stated Russia has reiterated that its grain exporters are committed to their contract commitments, but some Western countries were seeking to postpone the issue of exporting Russian grain.

Russia hoped that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will succeed in resolving the problem of sanctions, which hinder grain exports from Russia, Lavrov said.

He also accused the US of attempting to unilaterally impose world hegemony, while adding that Russia is primarily concerned with providing legal rights for the Russian peoples in that region as well as ensuring security.

Egyptian FM Shoukry reiterated the importance of reaching a diplomatic solution to the Russian-Ukrainian crisis in a way that spares the region the resulting issues related to energy and food security.

Shoukry said the Ukrainian crisis has affected Egypt, especially in terms of food and energy security.

The war has negatively affected the world economy, driving up oil and gas prices to unprecedented levels, with African countries being among those most affected.

Lavrov said Egypt understands what is happening in Ukraine, including the motives of the West, and it is a proponent of an early settlement that would take into consideration the legitimate interests of all parties.

Lavrov also said that his country is planning to hold a Russian-African summit by mid-2023 to increase cooperation, with the agenda of the event to be determined later.

He also said that cooperation between Egypt and Russia has improved in light of the strategic partnership signed between both countries during the Sochi Summit in 2019.

There is a consensus between Egypt and Russia on many regional issues, he added, expressing his country's desire to boost trade exchange rates with Egypt over the near future.

He also highlighted joint projects between both countries, including the El-Dabaa nuclear power plant, the first of its kind in Egypt, which saw construction on its first reactor begin Wednesday.

He also underlined the ongoing negotiations between both country's governments concerning the Russian industrial zone in the Suez Canal Economic Zone.

He noted that trade exchange between Egypt and Russia stands at $4 billion, around five percent more than previous years.

For his part, Shoukry, praised the deep relations between both countries at all levels.

The top Russian diplomat’s visit to Cairo is the first leg of his five-day African tour, which will include Ethiopia, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

During a meeting earlier in the day, President El-Sisi reiterated to Lavrov the importance of prioritising dialogue and diplomatic solutions to settle the Russian-Ukrainian war, voicing Egypt’s support for all endeavours that would speed up the political settlement of the crisis.

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