US aid chief to visit India amid food dispute

New Delhi has banned wheat exports to protect its domestic supply


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Published: Fri 22 Jul 2022, 8:55 PM

The US aid chief will visit India next week for talks on global food shortages, her agency announced Friday, as New Delhi's policies on the Ukraine war test its emerging partnership with Washington.

Samantha Power, administrator of the US Agency for International Development, will visit India from Monday through Wednesday and "discuss the global food security crisis," USAID said in a statement.

Power, who will meet with officials, civil society and experts, will show "US commitment to partnering with India, the world's largest democracy, as a global development leader in addressing some of the world's most pressing development challenges," it said.

US-India relations have grown close in recent decades, with shared concerns on a rising China and the threat of Islamist extremism.

But India has steered clear of criticizing its historic defence partner Russia over its invasion of Ukraine and has sought to buy Russian oil at a discount despite Western attempts to choke off funds for Moscow.

After Russia blockaded ports in Ukraine, a major grain exporter, India in May sought to protect domestic supply by banning exports of wheat grain, sparking a record surge in global prices.

In a speech earlier this week, Power did not criticise India explicitly but called on countries "unwilling to criticise the Russian government's belligerence" to end their export bans on food.

Power will be visiting India from the Horn of Africa, where there have been accounts of children dying of malnutrition as droughts aggravated by climate change also take a toll.

Ukraine and Russia on Friday signed a deal negotiated in Turkey to unblock grain exports, raising hopes of easing the global food crisis.

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