Iraq Happy with Aeroflot's Plans to Resume Baghdad Flights
New Iraqi ambassador to Russia, Munzir Duri, hailed relations between the two countries Wednesday, as Russia's largest airline, Aeroflot, announced its intention to resume flights to Baghdad.
"Iraq appreciates Russia's policies and actions in favor of the just settlement of the Iraqi issue," Duri told Deputy Foreign Minister Vassily Sredin, ITAR-TASS reported.
"Russia does not agree with the systematic bombing of the so-called no-fly zones over Iraqi territory and the intervention in the country's internal affairs," Sredin replied in a foreign ministry statement.
The ministry added that both sides were satisfied with bilateral relations and confirmed their intention to promote further cooperation.
Meanwhile, Aeroflot confirmed that a 70-member Iraqi delegation, comprising civil aviation heads and representatives from the Iraqi Airways company, would be in Moscow September 24 to discuss the resumption of passenger flights to Baghdad.
"Aeroflot will reopen its bureau in four to six weeks and will resume flights as soon as the United Nations embargo on Iraq is lifted," said Vyacheslav Kovalchuk, the company's representative for African and Middle Eastern countries.
"And besides, there are discrepancies in the interpretation of the resolutions," added Kovalchuk.
The United States and Britain maintain that the UN resolutions, enforced in 1990 after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, include an air embargo whilst France says nothing bans the transport of passengers to Iraq as long as they are not engaged in economic or financial transactions.
Last month, a Russian delegation flew direct from Moscow into the newly opened Saddam International airport without requesting UN authorization.
There are regular clashes between Iraqi forces and US and British warplanes enforcing air exclusion zones in the north and south of the country.
Moscow regularly denounces the air raids saying they have killed civilians and damaged food depots.
Russia is anxious to resume cooperation with Iraq in the hope of recovering huge debts estimated at several billion dollars, which Baghdad contracted with the Soviet Union.
It has repeatedly called for the lifting of economic sanctions against Saddam Hussein's regime - MOSCOW (AFP)
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