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Canadian foreign minister says West must ‘free Ukrainian wheat’

Canadian Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly said Monday that Western countries must move swiftly to counter a worsening global food crisis by helping Ukraine export growing stockpiles of grain that cannot be shipped because of Russia’s invasion and the blockade of ports.

“It is clear that for us what is happening right now in terms of a potential food crisis is linked to Russia’s war against Ukraine,” Joly said in an interview for the next episode of POLITICO’s EU Confidential podcast, to be published on Thursday. “But we need to do more to show African countries, Latin American countries and Middle Eastern countries and Asian countries that we are there to share solutions,” she said.

“Millions of tons of grain are stuck in silos in Ukraine,” Joly said. “We need to make sure that we free Ukrainian wheat and that we send them to European ports to be shipped.”

Joly, who was in Brussels on Monday to attend diplomatic meetings with EU officials and ministers, said that Canada, itself one of the world’s major grain exporters, was willing to send cargo ships as well as experts, including grain inspectors, to help get the Ukrainian stocks moving to destinations around the world.

“We’re willing to send Canadian container ships to make sure that grains can be then sent to Egypt, Lebanon, and many other countries,” she said. “And that’s one of the conversations I’ve been having intensively at the EU … particularly with Romania.”

Romania, because of its proximity to Ukraine and its own ports on the Black Sea, is a logical partner in trying to redirect Ukrainian grain supplies out of the war zone and for onward global shipping.

In Brussels on Monday, Joly participated in a Joint Ministerial Committee meeting with EU foreign ministers as part of the EU-Canada Strategic Partnership meeting, and she also attended the EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting as a guest along with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.

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