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Grain Discussions Begin

May 22, 1985

MOSCOW (AP) _ American and Soviet agriculture officials opened a new round of talks Wednesday about grain, the product that accounts for most of the trade between the two countries.

The Soviets have purchased a record 18.6 million tons of grain from the United States this year, mostly corn, in the aftermath of a poor harvest. The previous record for U.S. grain exports to the Soviet Union was 15.5 million tons in 1978-79.

The latest forecast by the U.S. Department of Agriculture indicates the Soviets may harvest 195 million tons of grain in 1985. That would be a 15 percent increase from the 1984 harvest, and would be the largest Soviet grain crop in seven years.

Soviet purchases of U.S. grain traditionally have accounted for the bulk of trade between the two countries, including almost 90 percent of the $3.7 billion trade total in 1984.

A U.S. Embassy official said the talks are expected to be routine and focus mainly on technical issues. Tom Kay, deputy undersecretary of agriculture, is heading the U.S. delegation, and Viktor M. Ivanov, a deputy minister of foreign trade, heads the Soviet side.

Such talks are held twice a year under provisions of a long-term grain agreement the two countries signed in 1983. The agreement calls for Moscow to buy at least 9 million metric tons of grain a year. Purchases of up to 12 million tons are allowed without special approval.

Last fall the Soviet Union was granted permission to buy up to 22 million metric tons of U.S. grain in the 1984-85 fiscal year that began Oct. 1.

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