US, Britain Press Russia to Support New Sanctions on Iraq
The United States and Britain on Friday increased pressure on Russia after four of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council agreed on key elements in revising sanctions against Iraq, said AFP.
Acting US Ambassador to the United Nations James Cunningham said that France, China, the United States and Britain reached agreement on the list of military and civilian technologies that Iraq could not freely import.
Diplomats were nevertheless skeptical on chances of an agreement on the "smart sanctions" plan before the July 3 deadline.
In Paris, US Secretary of State Colin Powell recognized that it was an uphill battle to get the resolution adopted before late Tuesday.
A top official traveling with Powell said earlier that there had been an agreement with four nations on the list, which had been the main obstacle to the US-British project.
"We have some positive developments. The discussion showed that there is an agreement that most council members could support," Cunningham told reporters at the end of a council meeting.
Cunningham, however, admitted that Russia had always strongly opposed the plan to revise sanctions against Iraq.
But a top Russian diplomat has said that Moscow's resolution calling for the gradual lifting of UN sanctions on Iraq was the only way to produce a long-term solution to the West's dispute with Baghdad.
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ordzhonikidze was speaking to Interfax news agency hours after Russia rejected the US-British proposal.
A Russian emissary later announced he would undertake a new tour of Middle East nations, said Reuters.
Ordzhonikidze told Interfax there was no alternative to the Russian resolution, submitted during Tuesday's Security Council debate, “if we are interested in securing a long-term settlement to the Iraqi problem.”
He said Russia could not support the Anglo-American proposal, which called for an overhaul of the terms of the humanitarian oil-for-food plan under which Iraq is allowed to export oil and buy supplies under UN supervision.
“We cannot agree with such a draft resolution,” he said. “In essence, it freezes the current state of affairs, maintaining sanctions with unacceptable consequences for Iraq's people and economy in the absence of any progress on disarmament.”
The US-British plan envisions increased trade with Iraq, while strengthening controls on goods that could be used for military purposes and oil smuggling.
On June 1, the Security Council adopted a resolution setting July 3rd as the cut-off date to reach an agreement on the US-British project.
If it fails, the council will have to decide if it renews the current "oil-for-food" humanitarian program, possibly again on a six-month approval basis.
"There will definitely be a rollover," Cunningham said, quoted by the agency. "The question is, what kind and in what context." – Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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