UPDATE 1-Iraq parliament backs trade minister, ends grilling over graft

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BAGHDAD, Aug 17 (Reuters) - Iraq's parliament on Thursday voted to end its grilling of acting Trade Minister Salman al-Jumali over corruption allegations that mostly stemmed from a ministry deal to import Indian rice in 2016.

Out of 202 members of parliament, 104 voted that they were convinced by Jumali's answers made in Tuesday's session to lawmakers' questions about the deal, Kawa Mohammed, a member of parliament who attended the session, told Reuters.

Another parliament source said it amounted to a vote of confidence in the minister and said there would be no further questioning of Jumali, who had denied the allegations.

The minister, a Sunni Muslim in a government dominated by Shi'ites, was questioned by lawmaker Alia Nussayif on Tuesday.

The minister told parliament that of the 40,000-tonne Indian rice cargo in question, just 4,000 tonnes were infected with a bug, and that portion of the order was rejected and funds returned.

Iraq, a major rice and wheat importer, has previously faced graft accusations linked to the Trade ministry, which purchases strategic commodities.

The Trade Ministry has been struggling to import grains for its food subsidy programme this year after introducing new payment and quality terms that kept traders away from its international tenders.

In May, the cabinet authorised the ministry to make direct purchases of wheat and rice to guarantee food security, a reflection of its struggle to secure enough interest in its tender process.

Iraq is expected to produce around 250,000 tonnes of rice this year suggesting a shortfall of about 1 million tonnes that will need to be filled by imports. (Writing By Maha El Dahan; Editing by Edmund Blair)