Iraqi VP takes off for Egypt to sign free trade accord
Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan, the highest-ranking Iraqi to make an official visit to Egypt since the 1991 Gulf War, flew out on Tuesday headed for Cairo, officials said. It was only the third time since UN sanctions were imposed on Iraq for its 1990 invasion of Kuwait that an Iraqi official had flown out of Baghdad, testing a UN air embargo.
Ramadan, accompanied by the ministers of trade, transport and agriculture, is expected to sign a free trade agreement between Egypt and Iraq, and to meet with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
Baghdad broke off diplomatic ties with Cairo after Egypt joined a US-led coalition, which evicted Iraqi forces from Kuwait in the 1991 Gulf War. On November 7, the two countries announced the effective resumption of relations.
Iraq's second-in-command, Ezzat Ibrahim, traveled to Cairo last October but it was to represent his country at an emergency Arab summit. He met with Mubarak on the summit sidelines.
In November, Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz became the first Iraqi official to fly abroad, to Syria, followed by Ramadan who visited India. The initiatives came after dozens of planes landed in Baghdad in a show of solidarity with Iraq. — (AFP, Baghdad)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)