RPT: PREVIEW - UN Chief Begins Trip To Ukraine, Turkey For Talks On Moscow-Kiev Tensions, Grain Shipments

UNITED NATIONS (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 18th August, 2022) UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres begins a three-day mission that will take him to Lviv, Odessa, and Istanbul in a bid to lower tensions in the region over the conflict in Ukraine and to review progress on the Black Sea initiative.

Guterres starts his trip in Lviv on Thursday in what are expected to be bilateral and trilateral meetings with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The UN said they are expected to discuss the need for a political solution to the conflict, among other issues. UN spokesperson Farhan Haq on Wednesday outlined some of the top items on Guterres' agenda.

"He's dealing with issues including the movement of ships and the food and grain issue, the concerns about the nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia, the concerns about the fact-finding activity concerning... Olenivka prison, and also his overall efforts to do what he can to essentially lower the temperature as much as possible with the various authorities," Haq said during a press briefing.

On whether it is a problem that Russia will not be participating in the talks, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters Guterres had a good conversation with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on Tuesday about the Zaporizhzhia NPP, Black Sea Initiative, and the Olenivka fact-finding mission.

Guterres' visit comes amid a dispute over a potential visit by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (NPP). Russia said the UN Secretariat canceled the trip while IAEA chief Rafael Grossi and the UN Secretariat said they needed to secure the consent of all sides.

After visiting Lviv, Guterres will head to the Odessa port, one of the three from which Ukraine exports grain under the United Nations-brokered Black Sea Grain Initiative. The UN said Guterres' goal is to review in person the results of efforts to broker a deal between Russia and Ukraine on getting grain and other foodstuffs out of Ukraine.

On Saturday, Guterres will visit Istanbul's Joint Coordination Center (JCC). The JCC oversees the shipments of Ukrainian grain via the country's Black Sea ports. According to the United Nations, Guterres is expected to meet with Russian, Ukrainian, and Turkish representatives at the JCC.

More details on Guterres's visit are to be announced on Thursday. The UN office refused to comment on the mode of transportation but confirmed he travels "not by ship."