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Flour docked in Lebanon not stolen from Ukraine, source at importing firm says

BEIRUT, July 29 (Reuters) - An official at a Turkey-based grains trading company denied on Friday that barley and flour aboard a ship docked in a Lebanese port had been stolen from Ukraine, saying the source of the flour was Russia.

The official at Loyal Agro Co LTD, who declined to be identified, told Reuters that the company had sought to import 5,000 tonnes of the flour on the ship to Lebanon to sell to private buyers, not to the Lebanese government.

Reuters could not immediately reach Lebanese government officials for comment.

The Ukranian Embassy in Lebanon on Thursday told Reuters that a U.S.-sanctioned Syrian ship had docked in the northern Lebanese port of Tripoli "carrying 5,000 tonnes of barley and 5,000 tonnes of flour that we suspect was taken from Ukrainian stores."

The Russian embassy in Beirut said it had "no information regarding the Syrian vessel or a cargo brought to Lebanon by a private company."

Russia has previously denied Ukrainian allegations that it has stolen Ukrainian grain.

The company official said the cargo had not been offloaded and Lebanese customs had not yet granted an import licence as customs was in the process of investigating Ukrainian assertions that the flour had been stolen by Russia from Ukraine following Moscow's invasion of the country.

The official said the company had provided Lebanese customs with documentation showing the source of the cargo was legitimate.

They declined to provide the documents to Reuters.

A customs official and shipping source told Reuters on Thursday that the Tripoli port had not offloaded the ship due to suspicions it was carrying stolen goods.

Lebanese customs could not immediately be reached for comment Friday. (Reporting by Timour Azhari and Maya Gebeily; Editing by William Maclean)

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