Iraq says door not closed on trade with French companies
Iraq has not closed the door on trade with French companies, despite the rift between the formerly close French and Iraqi leadership, Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri said Wednesday, August 29.
"We have not permanently closed the door on the French, but it is illogical to give them priority which is not in line with their position" toward the lifting of UN economic sanctions on Iraq, Sabri told the newspaper Al-Iqtissadi.
"We do not wield the humanitarian (UN oil-for-food) program against anyone, but it is our right to reproach our French friends so that they rethink their position," Sabri said.
Iraqi Trade Minister Muhammad Mahdi Salah announced last month that France would no longer be given priority in trade with Iraq because of its backing for US and British efforts to slap "smart" sanctions on Baghdad.
The minister said Syria, Jordan, Turkey and Russia would "be given priority" due to their efforts in blocking a UN Security Council vote on at the start of July on a revised embargo.
Iraq has been under sanctions since its ill-fated invasion of Kuwait in August 1990, before being expelled seven months later by a US-led international military coalition.
According to Baghdad, France was the largest supplier of goods to Iraq through the UN's oil-for-food program, with contracts totaling $3.5 billion, over the last four years. ― (AFP, Baghdad)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)