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Source: Unrest prompts U.S. military probe of food crisis

  • Story Highlights
  • Source says admiral wants to be prepared in case crisis becomes a defense issue
  • Crisis gained attention last month after riots erupted in Haiti, Egypt
  • Official says there is no "military planning" or intention to involve U.S. troops
  • Unrest in Egypt could topple ally; unrest in Haiti could spark wave of immigration
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From Barbara Starr
CNN Pentagon Correspondent
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- In light of growing unrest around the world over rising food prices, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is asking for a closer look at the crisis and its security implications, a U.S. military official said Monday.

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Demonstrators in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, last month protest the rising cost of food.

Adm. Michael Mullen has instructed his staff to investigate the matter so his office can be prepared in the event the crisis becomes a defense issue, the source said.

It's the first time the highest levels of the U.S. military have become involved in the issue.

The crisis first gained international attention when riots broke out several weeks ago in Haiti and Egypt over the high cost of food.

The U.S. military official emphasized that there is "no military planning" and no intention of getting U.S. troops involved in the crisis. Video Watch how Russia could help ease the crisis »

The source acknowledged there is little the U.S. military can do, but said, "This is an area that has certainly got our attention now."

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Even as they look into the matter, Mullen's staffers are not expected to come up with any formal recommendations to the chairman.

Egypt could be one area of concern for the Pentagon because unrest there has continued sporadically over food prices, two senior U.S. military officials have said.

Cairo is a major ally of Washington in the global war on terror, and the United States does not want the unrest there to grow, possibly risking the regime of President Hosni Mubarak.

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There also have been riots over high food costs in Haiti, sparking concern about another wave of illegal immigration to the United States.

The rising costs and chaotic riots have prompted several countries to stop exporting wheat and rice, and the U.N. World Food Program has cut food rations to millions of displaced people in Sudan's Darfur region because so many food convoys have been hijacked. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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