UAE Sends Humanitarian Flight to Baghdad
The United Arab Emirates flew medical aid to sanctions-hit Iraq on Thursday to join the flow of solidarity flights, reported AFP, quoting officials.
Health Minister, Hamad Al-Midfaa, led a delegation of 40 people, including doctors, nurses and journalists taking 10 tons of medicine to Baghdad, said the agency.
The flight was arranged by Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahayan, President of the United Arab Emirates, a longtime supporter of lifting sanctions. The UAE renewed diplomatic ties with Baghdad in July, the official WAM news agency said.
In Algeria, the official news agency announced that Air Algerie was to send a plane carrying 10 tons of food, medicine and school equipment to Baghdad later Thursday, the agency said.
On board would be the head of Algeria's Red Crescent Society, a lember of a solidarity committee with Iraq and a former ambassador, the agency said.
Meanwhile, a Tunisian plane landed in Baghdad on Wednesday with 20 surgeons and ophthalmologists aboard as well as a cargo of medical equipment and Tunisia's national football team, which is to play a friendly match on Friday.
Jordanian, Yemeni and Moroccan planes have also landed at Saddam International Airport since September 27 in a wave of flights to test a UN air embargo, part of sanctions imposed on Iraq for invading Kuwait in 1990.
The Arab initiatives follow Russian and French flights to Iraq since the airport was reopened in mid-August. Moscow and Paris notified the UN sanctions committee but did not await clearance unlike the Arab flights.
Emirati officials said the United Nations sanctions committee had been informed about the Boeing 777 flight but the government did not await approval, AFP said.
Apart from the latest batch of flights, several countries including the Emirates already flew UN-approved aid flights to Iraq in 1998.
The five permanent members of the UN Security Council disagree on whether non-commercial flights need to be authorized.
London and Washington insist all flights must have approval from the sanctions committee.
In the meantime, Turkey authorized a plane of medical supplies to fly to Baghdad for the first time, reported The Associated Press, quoting the foreign ministry. No schedule was announced and it was unclear if Turkey planned to seek approval from the sanctions committee, said the AP.
Turkey has also given a green light for a humanitarian flight despite the UN air embargo.
A Turkish diplomat was quoted by the official INA news agency as saying his government was in discussions with the UN about establishing an air link between Ankara and the Iraqi capital - (Several Sources)
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