June 11, 2019 / 12:13 PM / 3 months ago

UPDATE 1-Iraq says decision on Russian wheat imports could be months away

(Adds further comment, detail)

By Jonathan Saul

LONDON, June 11 (Reuters) - Iraq is still holding discussions over possible wheat imports with Russia and it could be months before any outcome is known, Iraq’s deputy trade minister said on Tuesday.

“Up until now we cannot say whether we will take or not - it depends on the results,” Haitham Jameel Ismail al-Khshali said.

Al-Khshali said a technical group of Iraqi specialists was looking into the issue.

“It will take some time ... maybe a few months,” he told Reuters on the sidelines of an International Grains Council conference in London.

Iraq, which sources its wheat from Australia, the United States and Canada, has specific requirements for its imports.

“We are open to all countries in the world,” al-Khshali said.

“With Russia we are not finished yet - we cannot announce now something until all these talks are finished.”

Al-Khshali said local wheat production so far from this year’s harvest was 2.5 million tonnes, adding it potentially could reach 4 million or 5 million tonnes.

When asked about wheat imports this year, he said “until now we cannot say - it depends on our production”.

“We hope that our production is going up and this will affect what we do for the future,” he added.

Interfax quoted Saudi Arabian Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih as saying on Monday that Riyadh may allow deliveries of Russian wheat in July.

Al-Falih said the Saudi side had not yet finished testing Russian wheat, adding he hoped a decision would be reached in July. (Editing by Mark Potter)

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