‘Pakistan will work to restore Black Sea grain deal’

Published July 21, 2023
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari shakes hands with his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba, on Thursday.—Twitter / BBhuttoZardari
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari shakes hands with his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba, on Thursday.—Twitter / BBhuttoZardari

ISLAMABAD: Calling the Black Sea grain deal vital for the world, Pakistan has vowed to work for its restoration after Russia’s recent decision to back out.

Addressing a joint press conference with his Pakistani counterpart on Thursday, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba regretted that his nation, along with countries in Asia and Africa, will suffer the most from Russia’s withdrawal.

“By doing so, Russia significantly undermined global food security that would result in a hike in global food prices.”

The two leaders also discussed the deal during their meeting, according to Mr Kuleba.

Bilawal says Russia’s decision will affect poorer nations; Ukrainian FM denies buying arms from Pakistan

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said it was in the larger interest of Pakistan as well as the developed world for the deal to be restored.

The war in Ukraine brought difficulties for developing countries, particularly in terms of fuel, food and fertiliser shortages and Pakistan was no exception, he added.

“I will be reaching out to the United Nations secretary-general and to my counterparts in Turkiye and Russia to discuss Pakistan’s concerns and our desire for the Black Sea grain initiative to be restored”, he assured his Ukrainian counterpart.

‘No arms deal with Ukraine’

Answering reporters’ question, Mr Kuleba rejected reports that Pakistan was supplying arms to Ukraine to support its military during the ongoing conflict with Russia.

He clarified that the two nations have no deals for supply of arms and ammunition.

Mr Bhutto-Zardari also expressed similar views, stating that Pakistan had not signed any agreement with Ukraine for military supplies since the war began.

Mr Kuleba, however, thanked Pakistan “for providing humanitarian aid at a time when Ukraine needed it the most”.

“We understand it was not an easy decision in terms of the domestic economic situation, but this is what friends do, they help each other in time of greatest need.”

Mr Bhutto-Zardari said he discussed the current situation in Ukraine with Mr Kuleba and expressed Pakistan’s deep concern and offered condolences on the loss of precious lives and immense human suffering.

“In a gesture of solidarity with the people of Ukraine and despite our economic challenges, we have sent humanitarian assistance,” he said, adding that prolonged conflict brought immense hardship and suffering to civilians.

He hoped that peace would prevail and emphasised the importance of peaceful resolution of disputes and conflicts through dialogue and engagement.

He expressed Pakistan’s readiness to support a peace initiative. “We hope for a peaceful resolution of the conflict through dialogue and diplomacy.”

‘Reinvigorate bilateral ties’

On the bilateral front, Mr Kuleba said the two sides agreed to reinvigorate bilateral mechanisms as both looked forward to holding the inaugural meeting of the Ukrainian and Pakistani Commission of economic cooperation.

Ukraine considered Pakistan a good partner and it was ready to work in all areas, especially in the area of food security, he added. “We were always standing next to you in terms of the food crisis.”

He recalled that two years ago Ukraine helped Pakistan at the time of wheat shortage and sent more than one million tons of grain.

The meeting between the two foreign ministers also agreed to boost trade and solve existing problems such as that faced by Pakistani students enrolled in Ukrainian universities before the war started.

Meeting with PM

Later on Thursday, Mr Kuleba also met with PM Shehbaz Sharif, who highlighted the adverse global impact of the Ukraine conflict on many economies and stressed the need for its negotiated and diplomatic settlement in line with the UN charter.

The Ukrainian FM briefed the prime minister on the current situation in Ukraine and recalled that both countries had always enjoyed long-standing and cordial relations grounded in cooperation and friendship with the common objective to contribute towards global peace and regional stability, APP reported.

Published in Dawn, July 21st, 2023

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