Iraq demands lifting of embargo before resuming dialogue
Iraq on Thursday, November 29 demanded a lifting of the embargo imposed 11 years ago before resuming talks at the United Nations on issues such as the return to Baghdad of weapons inspectors.
Iraq "demands a total lifting of the embargo, an end to attacks (in the two no-fly zones), respect for its sovereignty and non-interference in its internal affairs," the official Al-Iraq newspaper said.
"Only a satisfaction of these demands will lead Iraq to resume dialogue," the paper said, stressing that Baghdad "will not yield to threats" by US President George W. Bush, whom it dubbed a "war criminal." Bush warned this week that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, a sworn enemy of Washington since the 1991 Gulf War, must allow UN arms inspectors back in Iraq to prove he is not developing weapons of mass destruction.
Asked what consequences a refusal would bring, Bush replied: "He'll find out" -- a cryptic reply that fuelled speculation that Iraq might be next on Washington's list of targets after Afghanistan in its anti-terror campaign launched after the September 11 attacks in the United States.
Babel newspaper, headed by President Saddam Hussein's elder son, Uday, demanded that the UN Security Council "take no notice" of such "controversial calls" and instead "recognize the rights of Iraq ... so it (the UN) can regain its credibility." But Bush is seeking to "maintain the status quo in Iraq ... including the embargo, air attacks and the abnormal situation in the north of the country," warned Ath-Thawra, mouthpiece of the ruling Baath party in Baghdad.
The Security Council was expected to adopt a resolution later Thursday to open the way for sanctions reform in six months in Iraq which has been under a crippling embargo since invading Kuwait in 1990. The text, which has the support of the five permanent council members, will extend the UN's oil-for-food program into what may be its final 180-day phase, starting at midnight Friday (0500 GMT Saturday).
Iraq's northern Kurdish-populated region is not under Baghdad's control, being protected by US and British air patrols which frequently strike at Iraqi targets. — (AFP, Bagdad)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)