Agriculture Undersecretary Richard Crowder is headed to the Soviet Union to discuss food distribution issues with officials there, according to an administration official.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he could not comment on when President Bush might announce a food aid package to the Soviet Union or whether Mr. Crowder's trip there might delay such an announcement.Meanwhile, President Bush said Friday that his administration had not yet made a final decision on a long-awaited food aid package to the Soviet Union, but added that he is "willing" to help the Soviets through a "difficult winter."
President Bush made his remarks during a televised press conference in Rome, where he attended a NATO meeting.
An aid package proposal, which had the input of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, was said to be still on President Bush's desk as of late last week, according to the administration official. There "still are problems that have to be worked out" before an announcement can be made, he added.
"Those details involve the distribution of food to the Soviet center (government) and the republics," the administration official said, adding that "Crowder's visit continues that process of working out the details."
The official said he did not know whether the question of Soviet creditworthiness might be discussed by Mr. Crowder and officials he meets while in the Soviet Union.
Mr. Crowder already has made two trips to the Soviet Union since September, most recently accompanying USDA Secretary Edward Madigan in early October.
During that trip, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev made a request for $2.5 billion worth of additional U.S. credit guarantees and $1 billion in food donations.