The Kremlin has jointly published a statement following last month’s meeting between President Vladimir Putin and the heads of African states that led the African Peace Initiative, which aims to find a peaceful settlement of the Ukraine conflict.
In the document posted on the Kremlin’s website on Friday, the two sides acknowledged the progress made on points dicussed at their first meeting in June. In particular, both parties welcome movement on humanitarian issues such as the rights of children “in areas of armed activities,” as well as prisoner exchanges between Russia and Ukraine.
Putin and the African leaders have “agreed that humanitarian efforts would continue to bring further results” as the two sides continue discussing the peace initiative.
They also called for concrete steps to remove obstacles blocking the export of Russian grain and fertilizer, in order to allow the full implementation of the UN-brokered Black Sea initiative and resume the grain-movement deal.
Additionally, the leaders are urging the UN to take the necessary measures to release 200,000 tons of Russian fertilizer that have been stuck in EU ports for immediate –and free-of-charge– delivery to African countries.
The joint statement comes after Putin met with top representatives from South Africa, Congo, Egypt, Comoros, Senegal, Uganda and Zambia behind closed doors on July 28, following the Russia-Africa summit in St. Petersburg, marking their second meeting over the summer.
While addressing the African delegations, Putin repeatedly stressed that Russia is prepared to seek a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine, but noted that neither Kiev nor its backers in the US and NATO wish to hold any talks with Moscow. He also noted that Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has even signed a decree legally banning any negotiations with Russia at present.
Comoros President Azali Assoumani, who is currently chairman of the African Union, told RIA News in an interview last week that he and his counterparts have urged Zelensky to sit down at the negotiating table. However, the Ukrainian leader seems uninterested in talks without certain conditions being fulfilled, Assoumani said, adding this position is “not justified” and defeats the whole purpose of negotiations.
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