Aeroflot Prepares Ground for Flights to Iraq after Embargo
Russia's Aeroflot said Monday it had signed a deal with Iraqi Airways to allow regular flights to Baghdad whenever an international embargo is lifted.
Delegations from Aeroflot and Iraqi Airways signed a memorandum of cooperation following a week of negotiations here, an Aeroflot spokesman said.
"This memorandum will eventually allow a resumption of regular flights under an intergovernmental accord on flight services," said the spokesman.
"Nevertheless, we are still very far from being able to foresee a date" for resuming flights, he stressed.
The memorandum of cooperation provides for the opening of offices in both countries, the Aeroflot spokesman said.
Aeroflot, 51 percent of which is state-owned, has not flown to Baghdad since UN sanctions imposed an air embargo following Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
The Russian airline has said commercial flights to Baghdad would only be resumed once the embargo was lifted, but it wants to be prepared.
On September 14, Vyacheslav Kovalchuk, Aeroflot's representative for Africa and the Middle East, said the airline was to reopen its Baghdad office in four to six weeks and resume flights as soon as the UN embargo on Iraq was lifted.
US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said Washington would oppose Aeroflot's plans to resume flights to Iraq and said it expected all UN members to abide by the sanctions.
The flight embargo against Iraq is increasingly under challenge.
Both France and Russia have flown planes into Baghdad. India also plans to send a plane to the Iraqi capital -- MOSCOW(AFP)
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