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Dozens of states pledge to combat the use of food as a weapon of war

By Michelle Nichols

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – More than 75 countries will “commit to taking action to end the use of food as a weapon of war and the starvation of civilians as a tactic of war” by a US-drafted communiqué at the United Nations Nations on, senior US officials said on Thursday.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will release the communique on Thursday as he chairs a UN Security Council meeting on famine and food insecurity due to conflict. A senior US official said more countries are expected to sign.

Blinken will also announce about $362 million in new US funding to “address the causes of food insecurity and build resilience” in nearly a dozen African countries and Haiti, a second senior US official said.

While the United States, the European Union and others have accused Russia of using food as a weapon of war by exacerbating a global food crisis when it invaded Ukraine in February 2022, the draft communiqué does not name a specific country.

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“We are not trying to turn it into a showdown in Russia or any other country,” the second senior US official said.

“As repulsive as we and so many countries around the world find Moscow’s actions, we recognize that this is a challenge bigger than one country,” the official said. “We also know that our partners, especially in the Global South, prefer to hear a focus on solutions rather than finger pointing.”

Russia last month dropped a deal that had allowed the safe export of Ukraine grain for the past year to the Black Sea. The pact was brokered by the United Nations and Turkey to alleviate a global food crisis following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Ukraine and Russia are both the largest grain exporters.

After Moscow shut down, it started targeting Ukrainian ports and grain infrastructure on the Black Sea and Danube, and global grain prices rose. Moscow has said that if its demands to improve its own grain and fertilizer exports were met, it would consider reviving the Black Sea deal.

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(This story has been corrected to say that the communiqué does not specifically mention a country in paragraph 4)

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; editing by Lincoln Feast)

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