Soviets Hedge on Wheat Buy, Block Reports

Associated Press

U.S. Agriculture Secretary John R. Block said today that talks in Moscow have not yielded a commitment from the Soviets to keep to the superpower grain agreement and buy 1.1 million more metric tons of U.S. wheat.

Although American farmers have sold a record 18.7 million tons of grain this year to the Soviet Union, Block said at a news conference that the Soviets gave "no absolute guarantee" in two days of talks that they will buy the U.S. wheat.

Under the U.S.-Soviet agreement signed in 1983, the Soviet Union agreed to buy a minimum of 4 million metric tons of wheat and 4 million metric tons of corn a year, Block said.

Assumes Wheat Purchase

The Soviets have bought 15.8 million tons of corn this year but only 2.9 million tons of wheat, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's most recent sales report.

Block said he assumes that the Soviets will buy the wheat before the U.S. financial year ends Oct. 1.

He would not say whether the issue will be raised at the November summit between President Reagan and Soviet party leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev if Moscow fails to make the extra purchase.

Block said that the Soviets made clear that they expect to harvest more grain this year than in 1984 but gave no figures.

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