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Truss welcomes Iraqi Agriculture Minister to Australia.

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AFFA03/315WT - 4 November 2003

Truss welcomes Iraqi Agriculture Minister to Australia

Agriculture Minister Warren Truss warmly welcomed the visit to Australia this week of the interim Iraqi Minister for Agriculture, Dr Abdul Amir Al-Abood.

Mr Truss said Dr Al-Abood's visit, which follows that of Iraq's interim Trade Minister, Dr Allawi, last month, reflects Australia's strong support for the transitional governance arrangements in Iraq, and the very important role Australia is playing in rebuilding and revitalising that country's agriculture sector.

"Australia has committed over $100 million to help rebuild Iraq through a range of humanitarian and rehabilitation activities," Mr Truss said. "In fact, Australian wheat was among the first major deliveries of humanitarian aid to Iraq after the war.

"Australia has been a long-standing supplier of quality wheat to Iraq. That trade has been intermittently disrupted by conflict and political upheaval, but the preference remains for Australian wheat."

Dr Al-Abood is accompanied on his visit by Nasir Al-Chadirchi, the Leader of the National Democratic Party, and by Trevor Flugge, a prominent Australian farmer and agri-businessman who has been in Iraq heading up the Coalition Provisional Authority's Agriculture Team.

"Australia is committed to helping Iraqi fulfil its potential as an agricultural producer," Mr Truss said. "Our expertise in dryland farming, for example, will be of enormous value as Iraq struggles to overcome decades of inaction and infrastructure decay.

"We are committed to sharing that expertise, and providing other advice and assistance that will help Iraq increase its food security, and become a stable agricultural trader as soon as possible."

Mr Truss said Dr Al-Abood's visit would help him develop a better understanding of Australia's agricultural policies and practices.

"With that in mind, he will be meeting with key policy-makers and agriculture producers, as well as paying visits to a number of world-class agricultural production facilities during his short stay," he said.

"The visit will allow Australian policy-makers to gain a better understanding of the priorities for Iraq's agriculture sector in terms of aid and technical assistance.

"It will also provide Australian agricultural companies with an opportunity to explore the potential of commercial opportunities in Iraq, either by boosting exports or establishing long-term associations with that country's agriculture sector."

Further media inquiries:

Minister Truss' office: Tim Langmead - 02 6277 7520 or 0418 221 433