South Africa is working to persuade Russia to return to talks on a Ukraine grain-export deal that it pulled out of last month, nearly a year after it was reached.
“We are also working hard to persuade the Russian side to address the Black Sea grain deal and interacting with all the relevant parties to see whether we could find a solution to ensure an opening of the Black Sea initiative,” Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor said in Pretoria during talks with her Japanese counterpart, Yoshimasa Hayashi, on Tuesday.
Last week, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin defended his nation’s withdrawal from the grain deal at a summit with African leaders whose nations are feeling the impact of rising food prices stoked by his war in Ukraine and withdrawal from the pact.
South Africa was excluded from a promise of free grain that Putin made at the gathering to six African countries that have strong ties with Moscow.
South Africa has adopted a non-aligned stance toward the war in Ukraine that has drawn criticism from some of its largest trading partners, including the US.
Almost four months ago, Japan invited an African Union representative to a G7 summit, excluding regular attendee South Africa.
Pandor told the Johannesburg-based Sunday Times newspaper at the time that she wasn’t sure how “they missed South Africa, but it’s not a big deal.”
At Tuesday’s event, Pandor said South Africa would continue its efforts to seek an end to the conflict in Ukraine.
“Our country remains non-aligned in this conflict as we regard all wars as wars that we should not take sides on,” she said.