Basra’s port was operating at 20 percent normal levels after protesters blocked its entrance [File: Essam al-Sudani/Reuters]

Operations were at a near standstill at Iraq‘s Umm Qasr commodities port near Basra on Wednesday after protesters blocked its entrance.

Umm Qasr receives imports of grain, vegetable oils and sugar shipments that feed a country largely dependent on imported food.

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The port operated at only about 20 percent of its normal level after demonstrators blocked its entrance, port officials said.

“Protesters have blocked the main entrance to the port. Trucks that carry goods can’t enter or leave the facility,” said one official.

Port authorities said they are holding talks with protesters to persuade them to allow trucks and workers to enter and leave so

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