Iraqi President: Russia Keen on Better Ties with Iraq
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein said Thursday Russia's stance on a US-British plan to revamp 11-year-old sanctions on Iraq reflected its keenness to maintain ties with Baghdad, said the official Iraqi news agency, INA, quoted by the Gulf News.
"I told the envoy of Russian President Vladimir Putin the decision was an indication of Russia's recollection of its historic ties with Baghdad," INA quoted the president as telling Information Minister Mohammed Saeed Al Sahaf and a number of engineers and experts in radio broadcasting.
President Hussein received a letter from Putin on Wednesday dealing with Russia's stance on the Anglo-American "smart sanctions" plan, INA said. The letter was handed to Hussein by Putin's envoy Nikolai Kortozev.
He said Iraq would have refused the "smart sanctions" initiative even if Russia had voted in favor of it at the United Nations. "If they had issued what they call 'smart sanctions' it would come to us and we would refuse it even if Russia had signed it," he said.
Earlier this month, Russia's threat of a veto in the UN Security Council forced the United States and Britain to withdraw their proposal for so-called "smart sanctions.” The plan would have allowed more civilian imports into Iraq while tightening control on oil exports through neighboring countries.
The Iraqi president described Iraq's oil-for-food program with the United Nations as a way to plunder Iraq's oil revenues. "The memorandum of understanding is a way to plunder at least 50 per cent of Iraq's oil revenues," he was quoted as saying.
Putin said on Wednesday that UN sanctions against Iraq were counterproductive. But he also called on Baghdad to allow arms inspectors into Iraq to certify the country as free of banned weapons of mass destruction, adding that only then could UN sanctions be lifted, according to the report – Albawaba.com
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