Iraq Urges UN to End Blocks on Aid Contracts
Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammed Sahhaf has urged UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to put an end to the US and British blockages of humanitarian contracts, reported AFP, quoting the official Iraqi News Agency INA.
According to INA, Sahhaf met with Annan in New York Monday and explained that Washington and London were "blocking aid contracts and deliberately delaying their execution."
Aid contracts come under the oil-for-food program, introduced in December 1999 to allow Iraq to export crude oil in exchange for food, medicine and other necessities under close UN supervision, said the agency.
Sahhaf also criticized UN Security Council resolution 1284, dubbing it an "injustice for Iraq," the agency said.
Resolution 1284, which Iraq has rejected, calls for its full cooperation with a new arms control panel, UN Monitoring, Verification and Control Commission (UNMOVIC), in return for a renewable suspension of the sanctions regime.
Meanwhile, Russia received permission from a UN sanctions committee for a humanitarian flight to Iraq that also included oil experts, not usually allowed under flight ban exemptions, reported Reuters, quoting members of the committee as saying.
A dozen Russian oil and gas experts were aboard the YAK-42, which also carried five tons of medicine, said Reuters, adding that the aircraft arrived on Sunday in Baghdad from Moscow on a direct flight.
Some committee members told the agency that Russia had not notified them about the oil experts, only the humanitarian goods. But others as well as UN officials said Russia had written that it was sending a delegation of gas company officials on the flight but did not say that was the purpose of the trip.
Diplomats from the Netherlands, which chairs the Security Council's sanctions committee on Iraq, said Russia requested permission last week for two flights to Iraq, according to the agency.
One arrived on Sunday and another will probably land this week or next.
Committee members said they did not expect any action to be taken in the Security Council on the current Russia flights.
But one envoy said that the general issue of flights was expected to be a subject of controversy in the future, Reuters said - (Several Sources)
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