U.N. To Discuss Syrian Pipeline, Aid To Palestinians
Syrian officials assured the former chairman of the U.N. sanctions committee on Iraq that it has not been taking Iraqi oil exports through a restarted Iraqi-Syrian pipeline, U.N. diplomats said on January 8th.
Peter van Walsum, until this month the Dutch representative to the U.N. and the head of the sanctions committee on Iraq, had met with Syrian officials at the end of December 2000.
Syrian officials have continually denied importing Iraqi oil, despite reports from industry sources that Iraq had begun pumping 150,000 b/d through the line to Syria in November.
The sanctions committee had asked van Walsum to obtain Syria’s official stance on the pipeline, and the committee is expected to discuss the issue when it meets next week.
U.S. and British diplomats have suggested that Syria would be allowed to import Iraqi oil through the pipeline provided that it is approved as a third export route for Iraqi crude and all sales are conducted under the U.N.-administered oil-for-food program.
Damascus has not requested that the pipeline be considered a valid export route under the program.
The U.N. sanctions committee is also expected to consider Iraq’s proposal that some of its oil revenues be diverted to provide food and medicine for Palestinians.
France, Russia and China had backed the request, but the U.S. and the U.K. have blocked any serious discussion.
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein said in December that he had promised to give 1 billion Euros ($945 million) in aid to the Palestinians.
A French diplomat on the committee said that aid for the Palestinians should not come out of funds used to assist ordinary Iraqi citizens, but rather out of an account set up to compensate Kuwaitis and other victims of the 1991 Gulf War.
U.N. diplomats tell Oil Navigator™ that there is not a consensus within the council to allow revenue from within the oil-for-food program or the compensation fund to be directed to aiding the Palestinians.
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)