Security Council Extends Debate on Iraq to Thursday
The UN Security Council has extended a public debate on its Iraqi sanctions policy to Thursday, when a senior Iraqi Foreign Ministry official is expected to take part, said AFP.
All 15 council members and a handful of non-members had spoken on Tuesday, but the council president, Anwarul Chowdhury of Bangladesh, said there were still some 20 speakers on his list when he adjourned the debate after about four hours.
The Iraqi ambassador to the United Nations, Mohammed Al Douri, said that Riyadh Al Qaysi, an undersecretary in the ministry of foreign affairs, would take part when the debate resumed on Thursday afternoon.
Al Qaysi is expected to arrive in New York on Wednesday night and might meet UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, the ambassador said.
During Tuesday’s debate, Russia rejected a US-backed British plan to overhaul sanctions on Iraq and proposed its own resolution that would hasten an end to sanctions.
Britain and the United States dismissed the Russian initiative as unacceptable.
The rival drafts left the 15-member Security Council bitterly divided on how to break a two and a half year stalemate on the future of sanctions imposed on Iraq after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
Britain said it wanted to continue negotiations on its draft and hoped the council would agree by a July 3 deadline.
But Russia's outright rejection -- indicating it would exercise its veto power if necessary -- cast serious doubt on the possibility that the US-British draft could be adopted in a week, according to the Associated Press.
Diplomats said there would be a vote July 3 -- at a minimum to extend the UN oil-for-food program, which allows Iraq to sell unlimited quantities of oil provided the money mainly goes to the purchase of food and humanitarian supplies.
Russia, Iraq's closest ally on the council, demanded Tuesday's council meeting consider the humanitarian impact of sanctions, then used the session to denounce the British proposal.
London and Washington say their plan would lift most restrictions on civilian goods entering Iraq while tightening enforcement of the 1990 arms embargo and plugging up lucrative Iraqi smuggling routes.
"We cannot agree to this draft resolution," Russia's UN Ambassador Sergey Lavrov told council members, saying it would tighten rather than ease sanctions against Iraq, politicize the humanitarian program, lead to regional tensions and a "new level of danger."
Lavrov then introduced a rival resolution which would suspend civilian sanctions on Iraq once UN weapons inspectors certified that a long-term program to monitor Iraq's weapons programs was fully deployed, AP said.
On Wednesday morning, the council has scheduled a closed meeting at which it is expected to endorse Annan for a second five-year term as secretary general, said AFP.
It is due to hold consultations on the situation in Burundi on Wednesday afternoon – Albawaba.com
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