Uruguay wants to barter rice for oil with Iran

MONTEVIDEO Fri Mar 30, 2012 6:15pm EDT

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MONTEVIDEO (Reuters) - Uruguay will ask Iran if the South American country can export rice in exchange for oil, the government said on Friday.

Iran used to be a major destination for Uruguayan rice but the impact of U.S. and EU sanctions, aimed at curbing Tehran's nuclear ambitions, has put a strain on financing.

"If Iran is willing to barter oil for rice we will do it and we will take out currency from (the operation)," said Agriculture Minister Tabare Aguerre.

Uruguay is Latin America's top rice exporter and an ally to the United States in the region. Washington has said that it could slap sanctions on countries that buy crude from Iran.

Pressure from Washington and Brussels, which will slap a EU-wide embargo on Iranian oil from July as part of a campaign against Tehran's nuclear program, has led to a rally in oil prices this year as markets fear supply shortages.

Uruguay, the world's No.7 rice supplier, exported 90,000 tonnes of rice to Iran in 2011.

(Reporting by Felipe Llambias; Writing by Luis Andres Henao; Editing by David Gregorio)

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