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UN Names New Coordinator for Black Sea Grain Initiative

Abdullah Abdul Samad Dashti will help coordinate the five-month-old operation by Turkey, Ukraine, Russia and the United Nations

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday named a retired Kuwaiti vice admiral as coordinator for the Black Sea Grain Initiative to manage grain shipments from war-torn Ukraine.

Abdullah Abdul Samad Dashti will help coordinate the five-month-old operation by Turkey, Ukraine, Russia and the United Nations to ensure shipments of grains, oilseeds, fertilizers and other farm products can get safely to markets from the Black Sea.

Exports from Ukraine — a critical supplier of grains, oilseeds and vegetable oils to global markets — were cut off by a Russian naval embargo after Moscow’s forces invaded the country in February.

That sent prices for agricultural products skyrocketing around the world, hitting wheat importers in the Middle East and Africa especially hard.

In July, the UN, Turkey, Russia and Ukraine agreed to permit shipments to resume from Ukrainian ports.

The initiative also allowed Russia to export foods and fertilizer through the Black Sea, which are also crucial to global agriculture, without fear of sanctions.

Dashti succeeds Sudan’s Amir Mahmoud Abdulla, who had served as UN coordinator since August.

Dashti retired in 2021 from the Kuwaiti armed forces and has 40 years of experience in “naval operations, leadership and management, both within Kuwait and multinational deployments,” Guterres’ office said in a statement.

From 2019 to 2020, he was Kuwait’s military defense attache in Belgium and Kuwait’s representative to NATO.

More than 14 million tonnes of grain have been exported from Ukraine under the Black Sea Initiative, Rebeca Grynspan, head of the UN’s trade and development agency, said on December 15.

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