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AU Head Headed to Ukraine: Kyiv

FILE: African Union (AU) leader Macky Sall talks during a video conference with leaders of the European Union on the second day of an extraordinary meeting to discuss Ukraine, defence and energy in Brussels, on May 31, 2022.

African Union chief Macky Sall will visit Kyiv soon, Ukraine's foreign minister said, adding that he hopes the trip will help step up pressure on Russia to end its invasion.

The intended visit to Kyiv by Macky Sall, current AU leader and Senegal's president, will come as the Russian-instigated war in Ukraine has threatened food security in many African countries by preventing exports of grain and fertiliser.

Rising fuel and cereal costs are further straining vulnerable nations.

Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said he hoped Sall's visit to Kyiv would pile pressure on Russia.

"I am convinced that President Macky Sall can play an important role as the current chairman of the African Union," Kuleba said in an interview published Thursday in the Senegalese newspaper Le Quotidien.

Ukraine hopes to provide Sall with the "necessary objective information to strengthen the voice of the African Union, in particular to ask Russia to stop the military aggression against Ukraine," he added.

He did not confirm a date for the visit.

Sall visited Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi this month to discuss the issue.

He did not visit Ukraine, but said then that he intended to.

African leaders have expressed alarm at the effects of soaring grain prices and the blockade of Ukrainian ports.

Sall has also stressed the conflict's impact on the supply of fertilizer, essential in parts of Africa.

A dozen African countries, including Senegal, rely on Russia and Ukraine for at least half of their wheat imports, according to the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization.

But African governments are divided on their responses toward Russia.

In a recent interview with the French outlets France 24 and RFI, Sall denied being an "accomplice" of Russian aggression and said he condemned the invasion, recognizing that there was an aggressor.

Sall says he is seeking to maintain his country's history of non-alignment.