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State Secretary Blinken chairs UN meeting about global food security

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

The war in Ukraine is also having ripple effects across the developing world. Food and energy costs are spiking, and that was already true before Russia invaded Ukraine, as Secretary of State Antony Blinken says.

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ANTONY BLINKEN: Every driver of the crisis that we'll discuss today has been made worse by President Putin's war of choice.

KELLY: Blinken chaired a meeting at U.N. Headquarters today about global food security. NPR's Michele Kelemen is here to tell us what happened. Hey, Michele.

MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: Hi there, Mary Louise.

KELLY: All right, so what's the U.S. trying to get out of this meeting?

KELEMEN: Well, mostly, Blinken wants to show that the U.S. cares about the problems that many countries in the world face right now. There's been so much focus on the war in Ukraine, including at the U.N. But many countries are consumed by their own problems - rising food and energy prices, climate change, the coronavirus pandemic, conflicts. And many also complain that U.S. sanctions on Russia are making matters worse. Blinken made clear in this meeting today that - he said that's false. He said Russia's war and the blockade of Ukrainian ports are the real problem now. He announced some new aid and talked about how the U.S. is really looking for solutions. And by the way, the U.N. secretary general also spoke. And he said the world needs the food and fertilizer that Ukraine and Russia produce. And he says he's been having really intense contacts about that.

KELLY: OK. Let me turn you to another item on Secretary Blinken's calendar today. He met with Turkey's foreign minister. What was that about?

KELEMEN: Well, he wants to make sure that Turkey is not going to be a spoiler when it comes to NATO. Russia's war in Ukraine prompted Finland and Sweden to take historic steps to join the alliance, but Turkey is raising some doubts. Just listen to what the Turkish foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, had to say at a brief appearance with Blinken today.

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MEVLET CAVUSOGLU: You know, we have also legitimate security concerns that they have been supporting terrorist organizations. And there are also export restrictions on defense products. So what I'm trying to say - we understand their security concerns, but Turkey's security concerns shall be also met.

KELEMEN: And when he talks about terrorist organizations, he's talking about, you know, the Kurdish militant group, the PKK, and followers of an exiled cleric that Turkey says was behind a 2016 coup attempt. So it seems the Turks are really trying to use this issue of NATO membership to get some concessions from allies.

KELLY: And just quickly, Secretary Blinken made a little news today. This is about the U.S. embassy in Kyiv.

KELEMEN: Right. So the flag that was taken down before Russia invaded is now back up. And the embassy is officially reopened. Blinken said there are additional security measures in place at the embassy. He called it a momentous step and a sign of continued support for Ukraine.

KELLY: NPR's Michele Kelemen. Thanks, Michele.

KELEMEN: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Michele Kelemen has been with NPR for two decades, starting as NPR's Moscow bureau chief and now covering the State Department and Washington's diplomatic corps. Her reports can be heard on all NPR News programs, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered.

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