Iraqi envoy dismisses media report on Ukraine weapons
The Iraqi charge d'affaires in Ukraine dismissed on Monday a report in the British business daily Financial Times that Baghdad was seeking to purchase military technology from Kiev.
"I deny this absolutely," envoy Hisham Ibrahim told reporters, saying Iraq was prepared to admit inspectors from Ukraine or any "neutral" country to check the report, AFP said.
"Any team is welcome to Iraq, so long as it does not include spies," Ibrahim stated in a reference to the United Nations weapons inspectors who pulled out of Iraq in December 1998 and have not been permitted to return since.
Last week, The Financial Times reported an alleged conversation between Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and the head of the country's largest missile production company, Yury Alexyev, in which they spoke of "Iraq, Iran and rockets."
The report, in which the newspaper said it had heard a tape recording of the conversation, was "part of a US campaign of aggression" against Baghdad, Ibrahim said, accusing Washington of "interfering in (Iraq's) internal affairs."
"Hundreds of UN observers are deployed along the Iraqi border and inside the country (to oversee a UN-mandated embargo). How could Iraq buy arms from Ukraine in these circumstances, he asked.
Responding to the Financial Times article, Kiev last week accused the newspaper of sullying the country's reputation. (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)