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Ukraine's grain exports are being held hostage.
REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

What We’re Watching: Russia & Ukraine talk grain, US talks fish

Russia and Ukraine get granular, finally

The two countries at war on Wednesday agreed in principle to a UN-backed plan to resume exports of grain from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports. Before Russia’s invasion, Ukraine was one of the world’s largest exporters of wheat and cooking oils, but the war has crippled those shipments, inflaming food prices globally and undercutting food security in dozens of emerging market countries. Under the UN plan, Ukraine would clear mines from its ports, Russia would allow safe passage for grain boats, and Turkey would provide safe shipping corridors. But Kyiv is wary about Moscow using the de-mined sea lanes to launch a fresh naval offensive, and Moscow insists on the right to inspect any boats for weapons. The two sides and Turkey are set to ink an official deal next week. For complete coverage of the growing global food crisis, be sure to see our Hunger Pains project.

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Annie Gugliotta

What We’re Watching: Iran wants back in nuclear talks, post-Brexit fishing drama, RIP Facebook

Iran to resume nuclear talks — but it might be too late. Iran's top negotiator says that his country is now ready to rejoin talks on reviving the 2015 nuclear deal. Those negotiations have been on ice since June, when a hardline new Iranian president was "elected." But hopes for a breakthrough are slim. For one thing, Iran and the US still disagree about who should do what first: Tehran wants the toughest US sanctions lifted immediately, while the Americans say no way until Iran stops steaming ahead with its nuclear programs. (For a good primer, check out this Puppet Regime.) The other big obstacle now is that since Donald Trump ditched the deal in 2018, Iran has made immense progress in enriching uranium, breaking through all the limits set by the original agreement. Reviving that pact would now entail forcing the Iranians to give that all up, which Iran's hardline leadership is very unlikely to do, while Washington certainly won't want to write up a new deal that accepts Iran's recent nuclear activity — in fact, the Biden administration is under pressure to impose fresh sanctions. Fresh talks are good, but things don't look promising.

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TITLE PLACEHOLDER | Europe In :60 | GZERO Media

UK & France fight over fishing rights & why Scottish elections matter

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective on Europe In 60 Seconds:

What's going on between the United Kingdom and France over fishing rights?

Yes, good question. Why on earth are they sending the Royal Navy to chase away some French fishermen from the island of Jersey? Fishing rights is very controversial. It was one of the key issues in the Brexit negotiations. Extremely divisive. Fishermen are fairly determined people but sending the Royal Navy to handle the French fishermen was somewhat excessive. I guess it played rather well with the English nationalists for Boris Johnson in the local elections, though.

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What We’re Watching: Mali’s “imam of the people,” Chinese fishermen busted, Bulgarian PM clings to power

We need to do something about... Mali: The leaders of 5 West African countries are in Mali, negotiating a solution to the country's worsening political crisis. It's quite an impressive show of regional mediation force, but will it be enough to force President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to step down? For weeks, thousands of protestors have been saying they are fed up with rampant corruption, election fraud, a military incapable of stopping rising jihadist attacks. The key player in this crisis is Mahmoud Dicko, an immensely popular Muslim cleric who still supports the president — although his followers don't. Dicko says, for now, he would rather Keita stay in power and address the people's grievances. But outside parties like the UN and the powerful Economic Community of West African States are worried that continued unrest in Mali could further destabilize a region where jihadis are gaining a foothold, and they want Dicko to take over and restore stability fast.

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