Paris-Baghdad Sanctions-Busting Flight Cancelled, Yemeni Takes off
A flight from Paris to Baghdad planned for Friday, which was intended as a symbolic protest against UN sanctions on Iraq, has been cancelled, one of its organizers said.
"The plane cannot take off," said Father Yves Buannic.
He condemned the "cowardice of the French government and the responsibility of the Belgian authorities in the failure of our humanitarian operation, which was to have expressed our solidarity with the Iraqi people against one of the biggest injustices of this century."
The organizers were unable to reach agreement with Belgian company Bruxelles International for the charter of the aircraft, which was to have taken about 100 European personalities to Baghdad.
Meanwhile, a Yemeni plane bound for sanctions-hit Iraq took off for a second time on Friday after securing Saudi authorization for the flight, an AFP correspondent at the airport reported.
Saudi Arabia earlier refused to allow the plane to overfly its territory without UN authorization, forcing the aircraft to turn back to Sanaa, Yemeni officials said.
An airport official said the plane would make a brief stopover in Amman, apparently to avoid crossing a "no-fly" zone over southern Iraq bordering Saudi Arabia that is enforced by the United States and Britain.
"The plane took off again immediately after the captain received authorization from Saudi aviation authorities to fly over the territory of Saudi Arabia," he said.
The Yemeni flight to Baghdad, carrying humanitarian supplies and with Foreign Minister Abdel Qader Bajammal on board, is the second in three days from an Arab country, following a Jordanian mission on Wednesday.
Iraq has been under international sanctions since its August 1990 invasion of Kuwait. But the UN Security Council is divided over interpretation of the air embargo.
Apart from the Jordanian flight, which was the first in 10 years from an Arab country, three Russian planes and one French have landed in Baghdad since mid-August despite strong US condemnation.
France and Russia, along with China, say the sanctions do not cover private non-commercial flights and that the UN committee overseeing sanctions only needs to be notified.
The United States and Britain, however, insist on authorization from the sanctions committee – (AFP)
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