29 Jul 2022 12:41

Lavrov says ready to listen to Blinken's opinion on prisoner exchange, grain export

TASHKENT. July 29 (Interfax) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said he is interested in listening to what U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has to say about a possible prisoner exchange and the grain export situation.

"We have asked them [the U.S.] to specify issues that they want to discuss. We have not received their answer yet, but obviously they have already spoken about it in the media. If it is about an exchange of persons being held in custody in Russia and the U.S., we have already offered our comment on behalf of the Foreign Ministry that this matter was discussed more than a year ago at the Geneva meeting between [Russian] President Vladimir Putin and [U.S.] President Joe Biden in June 2021. At it, they agreed to appoint representatives in charge of these issues, and the Foreign Ministry is not among them. But, nevertheless, I will listen to what he has to say," Lavrov told reporters in Tashkent on Friday.

"As regards Ukrainian grain, probably it would also be interesting to hear how they are going to fulfill the commitments assumed by them in the context of the UN secretary general's initiative. Because, as regards Russian grain, it was American sanctions that hampered the full-fledged implementation of the signed contracts due to restrictions on Russian vessels, which are banned from entering a whole number of ports [...] in order to collect export cargoes, due to a surge in insurance rates on any Russian seaborne cargoes. These insurance rates have quadrupled, citing sanctions restrictions. And, finally, financial chains have also been ruptured by U.S. and EU illegitimate sanctions. For instance, the Russian Agricultural Bank, which handles all of our major transactions for food exports, was among the first to be included in the sanctions list," he said.

"Thus, the U.S. secretary general has pledged to remove these barriers to, as they say, resolving the problems of the world food crisis. We shall see," Lavrov said.