KYIV, May 23 (Reuters) - Ukraine's foreign minister began a tour of African countries this week, stepping up wartime Kyiv's diplomatic push to challenge Russian influence in the "Global South" and cement the vision laid out by Ukraine as the only path to peace.

Top diplomat Dmytro Kuleba said his main priority was to get African countries to endorse President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's peace plan as he travelled to Morocco on his second tour of Africa since Russia invaded in February last year.

"Important negotiations lie ahead with African leaders and business," he wrote on Instagram, saying he aimed to win support for the uninterrupted flow of Ukrainian grain via the Black Sea and secure new openings for Ukrainian business.

The tour follows three days of diplomacy by Zelenskiy at the Arab League of Nations on Friday and then at a Group of Seven summit in Japan. As well as G7 leaders, he met those of India, Indonesia, Iraq and the Saudi crown prince during his travels.

Political analysts say Ukraine is accelerating its push to court the Global South - a term meaning Latin America, Africa and much of Asia - and that the effort has taken on greater importance as rival peace proposals to end the war in Ukraine have popped up in other capitals.

China, which has touted its own peace plan, sent a top envoy to Kyiv, Moscow and European capitals to discuss a "political settlement" this month. South Africa said last week Kyiv and Moscow had agreed to discuss a peace plan with African leaders. The Vatican also fleshed out a peace mission this month.

"The urgency is because of these peace plans which are popping up," said Alyona Getmanchuk, a political expert who heads the New Europe Center, a think-tank in Kyiv.

"At some point, Ukraine realised that it had under-performed in the Global South for many, many years," said Getmanchuk.