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U.N. seeks exports of 'stranded' Russian fertilisers ahead of Black Sea grains deadline

By Emma Farge

GENEVA, Nov 3 (Reuters) - A senior U.N. official said on Thursday that the global body was prioritising efforts to export stranded Russian fertilisers from European ports and hopes to make advances before a deadline for renewing the Black Sea grains deal this month.

Moscow on Wednesday resumed its participation in a U.N.-brokered Black Sea Grain Initiative after a four-day suspension, easing pressure on food prices and allaying fears of a renewed global food crisis.

However, Russia has stopped short of giving its support for a renewal of the deal beyond its Nov. 19 expiry and is urging the United Nations to help fulfil parts of the deal intended to ease Russia's food and fertiliser exports.

"We will try to have important advances in that direction before the deadline," Rebeca Grynspan, Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), told journalists in Geneva.

"We think...we will able to ease the pain in this respect and one of these indicators of progress will be if we will be able to ship with the help of WFP some of the fertilisers that were stranded in some European ports," she said.

The U.N. World Food Programme confirmed to Reuters that it stands ready to help ship an initial 20,000 tonnes of Russian fertiliser to Malawi.

Western sanctions in response to Moscow's invasion of Ukraine do not explicitly target Russian food and fertilisers but nevertheless have complicated shipments because of their impact on finance, logistics and insurance.

Grynspan conceded that removing the obstacles was proving "difficult".

"We have been clarifying together and engaging with the EU, with the US with the UK to solve these problems. And I think that we are making progress (but) not all the progress that I would want to see right now," she said. She warned of a crisis of "food availability" next year if farmers did not receive fertilisers before the end of their sowing seasons.

Overall, she was upbeat on the Black Sea deal's renewal, citing the wide support it enjoys from all countries. "That gives me the hope that the parties will be responsible and will extend and expand the (deal)." (Reporting by Emma Farge; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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