IAEA chief hopes to find solution for Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant by year-end

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FILE PHOTO: A view shows the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant outside Enerhodar

MILAN (Reuters) – The International Atomic Energy Agency hopes to reach an agreement with Russia and Ukraine to create a protection zone at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant by the end of the year, the head of the U.N. atomic watchdog was quoted as saying.

The nuclear plant, Europe’s biggest, provided about a fifth of Ukraine’s electricity before Russia’s invasion, and has been forced to operate on back-up generators a number of times.

Repeated shelling around the Russian-held plant has raised concern about the potential for a grave accident just 500 km (300 miles) from the site of the world’s worst nuclear accident, the 1986 Chornobyl disaster.

“My commitment is to reach a solution as soon as possible. I hope by the end of the year,” Rafael Grossi told Italian newspaper La Repubblica in an interview published on Friday.

Grossi did not rule out meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin as well as Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“Our goal is to avoid a nuclear accident, not to create a military situation that would favour either one party or the other”, Grossi said.

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(Reporting by Gianluca Semeraro and Federico Maccioni; editing by Nick Macfie)

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