UPDATE 2-Lavrov says he's hopeful on unblocking Russian farm exports, based on EU and U.S. promises
By Vladimir Soldatkin
NUSA DUA, Indonesia, Nov 15 (Reuters) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday that the United Nations had told him of written U.S. and EU promises to remove obstacles to the export of Russian grain and fertilisers.
Lavrov said he had received undertakings on this from U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at a meeting on the fringes of the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia.
Russia has long complained of barriers to its farm exports, even though they are not directly targeted by Western sanctions.
It has said the renewal of the Black Sea initiative that allowed the resumption of Ukrainian grain exports in July - and is due to expire on Saturday - depends on resolving this issue to Moscow's satisfaction.
"The Secretary General spoke about the written promises that the U.S. and the EU gave him. Good intentions are stated there, and if they are implemented, then all obstacles in the way of Russian grain and fertilisers will be removed," Lavrov told reporters.
"We are assured by the U.N. Secretary-General that all economic operators involved in the supply chains of Russian fertilisers and grains are receiving reassuring signals that they will not be subject to sanctions if they cooperate on the implementation of trade deals with our grain," he added.
These promises covered the entry of Russian ships into European ports and of foreign vessels to Russian ports, the provision of insurance at normal rates, and removing restrictions on a sanctioned Russian state bank that finances the farm sector, Lavrov said.
"I hope these promises will be fulfilled. At least the U.N. Secretary General gave me his sworn assurance that this is a priority issue for him."
Russian grains and fertilisers are not directly targeted by Western sanctions, but Moscow has complained for months that they are effectively restricted because the sanctions limit access to ports, finance and insurance.
In spite of the problems, Lavrov said Russia had already exported 10.5 million tonnes of grain, mainly wheat, of which 60% had gone to Asia and 40% to Africa. (Additional reporting by Filipp Lebedev, writing by Mark Trevelyan; Editing by Kevin Liffey/Guy Faulconbridge)
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