WEISSENHAUS, Germany - Foreign ministers from the G7 group of rich nations will discuss how to alleviate food security concerns when they meet in Germany on Friday as fears mount that the war between Russia and Ukraine could further destabilise Moldova.
The annual meeting running until Saturday brings together top diplomats from Britain, Canada, Germany, Italy, France, Japan the United States and the European Union, to the Baltic Sea resort of Weissenhaus.
Talks are set to be dominated by Ukraine and how to manage the consequences of a conflict that could drag on for months, if not longer.
The Ukrainian and Moldovan foreign ministers are also attending on Friday with the West's most industralised nations set to reaffirm their support for the two countries.
The war in Ukraine has sent global prices for grains, cooking oils, fuel and fertilizer soaring, with United Nations agencies warning that the price hikes will worsen a food crisis in Africa in particular.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine since February has disrupted shipping in the Black Sea, a major route for grains and other commodities, throttling exports from Ukraine and Russia.
"There are 25 million tonnes of grain currently blocked in the Ukrainian port of Odesa, which means food for millions of people in the world that is urgently needed, above all in African countries and in the Middle East," German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock told reporters.
"That's why we're sending a clear signal today: we see you, we hear you and we support you," she said.
Diplomatic sources said the aim was for the seven countries to organise themselves better to find quick and efficient answers to the food crisis.
While U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will not make it due to catching COVID-19, the remaining ministers will aim to reassure Ukraine's neighbour Moldova.
It is struggling to cope with the refugee flow from its neighbour, but incidents involving pro-Russian separatists in recent weeks in the Transdniestria breakaway region have raised international alarm that Russia's war in Ukraine could spread over the frontier.
"The country has been weakened because of the war ... so we need to confirm our support for Moldova," a French diplomatic source told reporters.
Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, whose country currently holds the presidency of the Group of 20 Industrialised and Emerging Economies (G20), which also includes Russia, is will also join the meeting on Friday to discuss food security.
A French official said the question of Russia's presence at the heads of state meeting in November would be brought up.
(Reporting by John Irish Editing by Alistair Bell)