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Australia Says Iraq Will Not Boycott Its Wheat Imports


Australian officials say Iraq has given assurances it will not suspend wheat imports over oil-for-food kickbacks allegedly paid under the rule of Saddam Hussein.

The officials made the comment Sunday after Iraqi Deputy Prime Minster Ahmed Chalabi was quoted Saturday by the Australian newspaper as saying a boycott would be imposed until Australia pays compensation for hundreds of millions of dollars funneled to the Saddam government.

Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said Sunday that diplomats had spoken to Mr. Chalabi, who denied the boycott story.

A U.N.-commissioned report alleges that Australia's monopoly wheat exporter, the Australian Wheat Board, paid about $220 million that found its way to the former Iraqi leadership. AWB has said it knew nothing about any kickbacks.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and Reuters.

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