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US will 'gradually' resume avocado inspections in conflictive Mexican state, ambassador says

MEXICO CITY (AP) — U.S. government inspections of avocados and mangoes in the Mexican state of Michoacan will “gradually” resume, U.S. Ambassador Ken Salazar announced Friday, a week after they were suspended over an assault on inspectors.

The U.S. Agriculture Department inspectors “will gradually begin to return to the packing plants following recent aggression against them,” Salazar said in a statement late Friday. “However, it is still necessary to advance in guaranteeing their security before reaching full operations.”

“In fact, more work still needs to be done so that the (agriculture) inspectors are safe and can resume inspections and thereby eliminate the impediments to the trade of avocado and mango to the United States from Michoacan.”

Last weekend, two USDA employees were assaulted and temporarily held by assailants in Michoacan, Salazar said earlier this week. That led the U.S. to suspend inspections in Mexico’s biggest avocado-producing state.

The employees work for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). Because the United States also grows avocados, U.S. inspectors work in Mexico to ensure exported avocados don’t carry diseases that could hurt U.S. crops.

The Associated Press

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