WASHINGTON — Three senior Soviet trade officials met with their U.S. counterparts Monday to lobby for loans so Moscow can buy more much needed American grain and meat, U.S. officials said.
The Soviet officials also briefed the Bush Administration on an acute food shortage currently plaguing the Soviet Union and discussed the outlook for future food purchases from the United States, the U.S. officials said.
Agriculture Secretary Clayton K. Yeutter told reporters that Moscow must liberalize its emigration laws to be considered for such loans. The Soviet Parliament is expected to debate new immigration laws in the coming weeks.
Yeutter said U.S. funds for food aid programs handled by his department were running low and added that no official Soviet request had been made for emergency assistance.
The visiting Soviet officials were chairman of the State Commission on Food Procurement, L. M. Timofhishin; deputy minister for foreign trade and economic relations, Yuri Chumakov, and Oleg Klimov, head of the key Soviet grain importing agency Exportkhleb.
Klimov said in reply that without credit, Moscow, normally a big buyer of U.S. grain, could not buy such large amounts of grain as it previously used to.
"American suppliers have very little chance to sell grain right now because there is no credit available," he added.
Soviet grain purchases from the United States have been very slack this year because of the hard-currency shortage.