U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres, seen here at the U.N. General Assembly 77th session General Debate in September, called for the extension of the Black Sea Grain Initiative during a visit to Kyiv Wednesday. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
March 8 (UPI) -- U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres emphasized the importance of extending the Black Sea Grain Initiative, a deal allowing the export of Ukrainian grain, during a visit to Kyiv Wednesday.
The secretary-general arrived in Poland Tuesday before crossing into Ukraine.
In July, the agreement was reached in Istanbul to allow the safe passage of ships carrying grain. In November, the deal was extended for an additional 120 days. The initiative is set to expire on March 18.
In his remarks, Guterres reiterated the position that the invasion of Ukraine is illegal.
"The position of the United Nations, which I have consistently expressed, is crystal clear: Russia's invasion of Ukraine is a violation of the U.N. Charter and international law," Guterres said.
The U.N secretary-general touted the success of July's grain deal.
"The Black Sea Grain Initiative, agreed last July in Istanbul, has provided for the export of 23 million tons of grain from Ukrainian ports," Guterres said. "It contributed to lowering the global cost of food and has offered critical relief to people, who are also paying a high price for this war, particularly in the developing world."
"Exports of Ukrainian -- as well as Russian -- food and fertilizers are essential to global food security and food prices," Guterres said.
The secretary-general also emphasized the importance of extending the grain deal beyond the date it is meant to expire.
"I want to underscore the critical importance of the rollover of the Black Sea Grain Initiative on 18 March and of working to create the conditions to enable the greatest possible use of export infrastructures through the Black Sea, in line with the objective of the initiative," he said.