Pakistan says Iran wheat deal to be finalised within weeks

Last Updated: Wed, Jul 17, 2013 10:53 hrs

ISLAMABAD, July 17 (Reuters) - Pakistan will finalise a long-delayed deal to export $9 million worth of wheat to Iran within weeks, a finance ministry spokesman said on Wednesday.

Pakistan is negotiating to send 100,000 tonnes of wheat in partial payment for electricity supplies from Iran. Pakistan owes Iran $53 million for the imports but its cash-strapped state power company has no means to pay.

Talks are underway among Pakistani ministries to settle the finer details of the deal, said finance ministry spokesman Rana Assad Amin. He said he expected the talks to be wrapped up within a few weeks.

The wheat shipment was due to be delivered to Iran in mid-February but has been repeatedly delayed by wrangling between the two nations and preparations for Pakistan's May 11 election.

Food imports are not affected by Western sanctions on Iran. But sanctions on oil exports have dried up the country's cash flow, hindering its ability to pay for much of the food it imports.

Pakistan is battling a chronic energy shortage that has eviscerated industry and sparked public outrage. The government insists that companies sell power for less than the cost of production, leaving them unable to pay for fuel or imports. (Reporting by Katharine Houreld; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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