Russia to Present UN with Proposal on Iraq Sanctions
Russia will present a proposal to the UN Security Council on July 3 for a new system of sanctions on Iraq, including a clear timetable for ending them, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said on Friday.
Russia, which has long urged a lifting of the sanctions, called for an open Security Council meeting next week on the issue.
Moscow has criticized a US-backed British proposal, submitted last month, that would lift most restrictions on civilian goods entering Iraq while tightening the arms embargo.
Ivanov was quoted by the Russian news agency, Novosti, as saying that "unfortunately the draft is one-sided and speaks only of tightening sanctions. It does not contain elements which Russia finds crucial: a mechanism of control over Iraqi military programs and the existence of a clear prospect for removing the sanctions."
"I rule out nothing, including our counterproposals," he added.
Ivanov was reported to have said in closed-door hearings in the lower house of Parliament that Russia would submit its proposal to the Security Council on July 3, which would include a timeframe for ending sanctions.
Moscow has several stalled oil cooperation projects in Iraq, and is owed billions of dollars in Soviet-era debt that Iraq cannot now pay off because of the sanctions.
"Russia has its own large economic interests in Iraq. Iraq is one of our most important partners in the Middle East," said Ivanov.
Sanctions imposed by the Security Council after Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait cannot be lifted until UN inspectors certify that the country's programs to build weapons of mass destruction have been dismantled.
But Iraq has barred UN inspectors for two and a half years, demanding that sanctions be lifted unconditionally. Baghdad maintains it has fulfilled all the UN resolutions.
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko issued a statement criticizing an alleged US-British airstrike on a soccer field in northern Iraq on Tuesday that Baghdad said killed 23, Novosti added.
He said: "Military escapades of this kind, which run against international law, not only fail to provide conditions for the normalization of relations between Baghdad and the international community, but also lead to a sharp exacerbation of the situation in the region, which is tense as it is."
US officials denied involvement in any such airstrike, saying "there's no substance, nothing at all to those claims." – Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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