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Guterres, Zelensky seek to secure Russian-held nuclear plant

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, left, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, center, and United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres shake hands after their meeting in Lviv, Ukraine, Aug 18, 2022. (EVGENIY MALOLETKA / AP)

KYIV – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky met with visiting United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday to discuss grain exports from Ukraine and the situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (NPP), the presidential press service reported.

At the meeting in Ukraine's western city of Lviv, Zelensky hailed the UN's positive role in resuming grain exports from Ukraine and stressed Kiev's readiness to guarantee global food security.

READ MORE: Ukraine sets up crisis center to deal with Zaporizhzhia situation

Zelensky and Guterres agreed to continue the coordination on the grain initiative implementation and emphasized the importance of increasing the number of vessels exporting foodstuffs from Ukraine.

Guterres and Zelensky also discussed the release of Ukrainian military personnel and medics taken captive during the Russia-Ukraine conflict

They also talked about the UN's role in ensuring security at the Zaporizhzhia NPP and stressed the need for the demilitarization of the plant.

The two leaders also discussed the release of Ukrainian military personnel and medics taken captive during the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Guterres arrived in Ukraine on Wednesday. 

Talking to reporters after talks in Lviv, Ukraine, on Thursday, Guterres said he was gravely concerned by circumstances at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant and called for military equipment and personnel to be withdrawn.

Guterres, Zelensky and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed ways to end Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine and secure the nuclear plant.

Erdogan said later he, Guterres and Zelensky discussed building on recent positive atmosphere to revive peace negotiations with Russia that took place in Istanbul in March.

ALSO READ: Don't endanger safety of Zaporizhzhia power plant, says UN chief

On July 22, Ukraine signed a deal with Türkiye and the UN in Istanbul to resume food and fertilizer shipments from Ukrainian ports to international markets via the Black Sea. Russia signed the same agreement.

Last week, Ukraine and Russia blamed each other over a strike on the Zaporizhzhia plant, which is one of the largest atomic power complexes in Europe and generates a quarter of Ukraine's total electricity.

Ukraine, on Aug 11, called for an international mission under the leadership of the International Atomic Energy Agency, involving UN experts, to visit the plant to assess the threats to nuclear safety.

With inputs from Reuters