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Putin to use U.N. grain deal as leverage at G20, European diplomat says

LONDON, Oct 26 (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin is likely to use the possible extension of the U.N.-brokered Black Sea grain deal as a way to gain leverage and dominate next month's G20 summit in Indonesia, a European diplomat briefed on the grain talks told Reuters.

Ahead of the Nov. 19 expiry of the grain deal, which allows Ukrainian Black Sea grain exports, Russian officials have repeatedly said that there are serious problems with it.

But a European diplomat who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the discussions said that Putin will attend the G20 summit on the resort island of Bali that begins on Nov. 15.

The Kremlin, which has not yet confirmed that Putin will attend, declined immediate comment. Putin said on Oct. 14 that he had not yet made a final decision about whether or not he would go.

If he does, it will be the first major global summit the Kremlin chief has attended alongside major Western leaders including U.S. President Joe Biden since the war began on Feb. 24.

"The grain deal will be the centrepiece of this G20 summit and everyone will be trying to convince Putin to extend it, essentially to allow it to roll over or to extend it for longer," the European diplomat said.

"It is a way for the Russians to hold the cards at the G20 summit but a rollover or a longer term extension to the grain deal doesn’t cost them anything." (Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

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