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U.S. takes the helm of the UN Security Council

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

The U.S. has taken over the rotating presidency of the United Nations Security Council, and it's planning to focus on food security as well as Russia's invasion of Ukraine. NPR's Michele Kelemen reports.

MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: Secretary of State Antony Blinken will be chairing a Security Council meeting on food security this Thursday. U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield says in a world abundant with food, no one should ever starve to death.

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LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD: We know food security is national security. And we know without a shadow of a doubt it is within our power to feed the world and end famine.

KELEMEN: But she says conflict fuels famine. And she singled out Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has waged war against Ukraine and recently pulled out of a deal that allowed Ukraine to get its grain to world markets via the Black Sea.

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THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Russia has launched a full-scale assault on the world's breadbasket, and it is dead set on depriving the world of Ukraine's grains.

KELEMEN: The U.N. Security Council has been the scene of many debates about Ukraine, but the council can't do much since Russia is a permanent member and has veto power. Russia's deputy ambassador, Dmitry Polyanskiy, an ally of Russia.

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DMITRY POLYANSKIY: But the most important stumbling block was the desire, I would say, even the obsession of American incoming presidency to put formally in this program of work and meeting on Ukraine.

KELEMEN: He says Russia doesn't shy away from debates about Ukraine, but Moscow wants to focus on different aspects of the war, such as Western arms shipments. Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield says she's pressing ahead with her schedule for the month.

THOMAS-GREENFIELD: It's a little stunt that the Russians have pulled, but it will not interfere. It will not stop us from carrying out our responsibilities in the council.

KELEMEN: One place where she thinks the council can get something done is Haiti. For nearly a year, the U.N. secretary general has been urging the council to approve an international force to help restore order in Haiti, where gangs control much of the capital. Kenya is now considering leading such a force, and the U.S. is hoping the Security Council will endorse one in the coming weeks. Michele Kelemen, NPR News, the State Department. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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.