Iraq, Italy Hold Talks on Developing Cooperation
A delegation of Italian MPs has held a series of meetings with senior Iraqi ministers on means of developing cooperation between the two countries, newspapers reported Tuesday.
Led by Guido Folloni, the parliamentary delegation held talks with Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister, Tariq Aziz, on "ways of developing Iraqi-Italian cooperation and establishing a permanent dialogue" between the two countries.
Aziz said Baghdad "appreciated the role Rome was playing and its call to lift the unjust embargo imposed by the United Nations on Iraq" since its August 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
Folloni also held talks with Iraqi Trade Minister Mohammad, Mahdi Saleh, on means of increasing bilateral cooperation.
"Iraq is working to increase cooperation in trade between Baghdad and Italian companies," Saleh said.
Folloni said the Italian parliament "would ask the government to strengthen its cooperation with Iraq and work to get rid of the obstacles blocking contracts signed with Baghdad in the framework of the oil-for-food program."
According to official Iraqi figures, Italy and Iraq have signed contracts worth 477 million dollars, most of which have been blocked by the UN sanctions committee.
Baghdad frequently accuses the British and US members of the UN committee of blocking vital imports.
The Oil-for-Food program has been in force since the end of 1996 and allows Iraq to sell crude oil to buy food, medicine and essential items under strict UN control - BAGHDAD (AFP)
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