French Aid Plane Lands in Baghdad as Air Embargo Weakens
A French plane carrying humanitarian aid arrived in Baghdad overnight Friday with 110 passengers aboard including French politicians and intellectuals, further weakening a UN air embargo against Iraq.
The French flight arrived just hours after a Royal Jordanian airplane that became the first commercial flight to travel from Jordan to Iraq in more than 10 years, returned home early Friday morning.
Both Russia and France started aid flights to Iraq towards the end of summer to challenge the British and US interpretation of the UN Security Council's flight embargo there.
France sent its first flight on September 22, sparking accusations from the United States and Britain that it was in violation of the sanctions imposed on Iraq for its 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
Enfants du Monde - Droits de L'Homme (Children of the World-Human Rights) is one of the groups backing the flights.
The French plane landed at midnight (2100 GMT) with parliamentarians, intellectuals and sportsmen aboard. Among the passengers were former French foreign minister Claude Chesson and Enfants du monde president father Yves Buannic.
Chesson told AFP that the UN embargo against Iraq was "totally unjust, because the part of the population that suffers is not the part that makes the decisions".
Buannic called the flight "a symbolic gesture, a gesture of love. We want to say no to the embargo".
A second French flight was due in Baghdad Saturday morning.
On board the Jordanian flight were 45 passengers, including a number of "sick Iraqis who are to be treated at hospitals in Amman," the spokesman said.
Iraq has been under economic sanctions, including a ban on regular flights, since it invaded Kuwait in August 1990.
According to official Jordanian sources, the UN sanctions committee did "not raise an objection" to the flight -- BAGHDAD (AFP)
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