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Amid imports dispute, Poland tells Ukraine to remember its help

FILE PHOTO: Poland's Armed Forces Day celebrations, in Warsaw

WARSAW (Reuters) - Ukraine should remember that it receives help from Poland, the Polish president said on Tuesday, amid a deepening dispute between the countries over agricultural imports.

While Poland remains a staunch supporter of Ukraine in the face of the Russian invasion, the two countries have been at odds over Poland's recent extension of a ban on imports of Ukrainian grains, which Warsaw says is needed to protect its farmers.

"It would be good for Ukraine to remember that it receives help from us and to remember that we are also a transit country to Ukraine," Andrzej Duda told reporters in New York following an address to the United Nations General Assembly.

Poland, Slovakia and Hungary announced restrictions on imports from Ukraine on Friday after the European Commission decided not to extend a ban on sales into Ukraine's five EU neighbours, which also include Romania and Bulgaria. The ban was introduced after the countries saw a flood of cheap imports from Ukraine as it struggled to ship grain further afield.

While Ukraine appealed on Tuesday for a "constructive dialogue", a World Trade Organization spokesperson confirmed that Kyiv had taken the first step in a trade dispute by filing a complaint to the global trade body.

Duda said that if Ukraine filed the complaint, Poland would explain the situation before the tribunal.

He underscored that the ban regarded imports but not transit of Ukrainian grain.

"There are business circles that have interests in Ukraine and would like to sell grain as quickly as possible at the lowest possible cost. We have to defend ourselves against it," he said.

"I would compare it to something like a drowning person... A drowning person is extremely dangerous because he can pull you to the depths ... He can simply drown the rescuer."

(Reporting by Alan Charlish and Karol Badohal; Editing by William Maclean and Mark Potter)