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Putin agrees to involvement of UN, ICRC in civilian evacuation from Azovstal: UN

People's Daily Online

(Xinhua) 09:16, April 27, 2022

UNITED NATIONS, April 26 (Xinhua) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin has agreed in principle to the involvement of the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in the evacuation of civilians from the Azovstal plant in Mariupol of Ukraine, said a UN spokesman on Tuesday.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres held a tete-a-tete in Moscow with Putin, said Stephane Dujarric, Guterres' spokesman, in a readout of the meeting.

Guterres reiterated the position of the United Nations on Ukraine, and they discussed the proposals for humanitarian assistance and evacuation of civilians in relation to the situation in Mariupol, said the readout.

"The president agreed, in principle, to the involvement of the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross in the evacuation of civilians from the Azovstal plant in Mariupol," it said.

Follow-on discussions will be held with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the Russian Defense Ministry, it added.

Dujarric was with the secretary-general in Moscow.

Before his talks with Putin, Guterres held a working meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

At a press encounter after his meeting with Lavrov, Guterres said that "it is my deep conviction that the sooner we end this war, the better -- for the people of Ukraine, for the people of the Russian Federation, and those far beyond."

Guterres said he had proposed the establishment of a Humanitarian Contact Group, bringing together Russia, Ukraine and the United Nations, to look for opportunities for the opening of safe corridors, with local cessations of hostilities, and to guarantee that they are actually effective.

On Mariupol, in particular, he proposed for coordinated work of the United Nations, the ICRC, and the Ukrainian and Russian forces to enable the safe evacuation of the civilians who want to leave, both inside the Azovstal plant and in the city, in any direction they would choose, and to deliver the humanitarian aid required, said Guterres.

The Ukraine conflict is sending shock waves around the world. The dramatic acceleration of the increases in the prices for food and energy is causing enormous suffering to hundreds of millions of the most vulnerable people worldwide. This comes on top of the shock of the continued COVID-19 pandemic and uneven access to resources for recovery, which particularly penalize developing countries around the world, he said.

Guterres will be flying to Rzeszow of Poland, in transit to Ukraine, where he will meet with Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday.



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