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INDIA, August 23, 2001: Pakistani and Indian officials have pledged to work together in a growing battle with the US about rights to basmati rice. A decision in the US this week to grant patents to a US company for new strains of rice similar to basmati has provoked an angry reaction. Commerce ministers from the two countries emerged from a meeting in Delhi late on Wednesday, describing basmati as the queen of rice and vowing they would never let it belong to anyone else. The US patents office has granted patents to a US company, Rice Tech, for three new strains of rice, which they are now allowed to promote as similar to or superior to basmati. Long-grained basmati rice has been grown for centuries in the Himalayan foothills of north-west India and Pakistan and has become popular internationally. Ownership has become a deeply emotive issue in recent years.