Wednesday, November 21, 2007
US asks Israel to stop importing pistachio from Iran
Washington displeased with nuts smuggled to Turkey from Tehran and imported to Jewish state
US Undersecretary of Agriculture Mark Keenum demanded Monday that the Israeli import from Turkey of pistachio nuts originating in Iran be halted immediately, Yedioth Ahronoth has learned.
The US undersecretary met with Israeli Agriculture Minister Shalom Simhon in Rome during a conference organized by the International Food and Agricultural Organization.
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The Israeli embassy in Italy reported to the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem that the Americans are working to stop the export of Iranian pistachio nuts as part of the economic sanctions imposed on the Islamic republic.
Keenum told Simhon that it was absurd that Israel was purchasing most of its pistachio nuts from an enemy state. According to the undersecretary, Washington was extremely troubled by this, as US pistachio growers have protested the fact that America's friend favors Iranian pistachio nuts over American ones.
Simhon, who was surprised by the information, promised to act immediately to halt the import of the forbidden pistachio nuts. "Israel is not interested in helping Iran's economy," he said.
Iran is the world's biggest exporter of pistachio nuts, while Israel is the world's biggest importer of pistachio.
"We all know what the Israelis like to do on Friday night in front of their television sets," said Zvi Alon, senior deputy-director general (foreign trade) of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. "The Israelis just love their pistachio nuts."